The Consumer Product Safety Commission warned parents today not to use at-home lead test kits to evaluate the safety of toys and other products.
After a rash of product recalls due to lead paint -- including millions of toys -- parents have had a strong incentive to buy at-home lead test kits to determine.
But of the 104 kits tested, 56 -- more than half -- failed to detect lead when it was present, particularly when it was covered by a protective coating. Two detected lead when there was none.
The kits studied use base results on chemical reactions involving rhodizonate ion or sulfide ion. They were developed to detect lead in household paint, where the concentration of lead is likely to be much higher than in toys and other products. The kits failed to accurately detect lead in small quantities, as it is found in jewelry, vinyl or other substances.
A much more promising technique, according to CPSC results, is x-ray fluorescence, which was successful in 12 of 13 tests. Only trained professionals have access to this technology, however.
"Testing by a qualified laboratory and trained personnel is the only way to accurately assess the potential risk posed by a consumer product that may contain lead," the CPSC said.
Consumers can stay informed of lead-related recalls by signing up for email announcements at www.cpsc.gov.
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