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The recent massive recall of toys that contained lead has concerned parents wondering if their existing toys contain lead. There are many lead testing kits available in the market, but they may have only limited value. A recent Consumer Reports article found that 3 of the 5 popular kits tested detected surface lead but didn't detect lead below the surface.
Lead was a common ingredient in older house paints, and is therefore a continuing threat in older homes. Lead can also be present in soil and dust as a residue from gasoline exhaust. Up to a third of the nation's housing stock still contains some lead paint, and 25 percent of homes with children age 6 or younger has siginificant lead hazards in paint, dust, and soil.
Statistics indicate that up to 2.4 percent of children under age 5 have elevated lead levels. The EPA recommends that all children have blood level lead tests at age 1 and age 2. You may also want to consider yearly tests for all kids and adults if you have concerns. You should also monitor product recalls notices.
The Home Lead Testing Kits available are good for testing surfaces such as windows, walls, floors, and the faces of toys. The kits have swabs which change color in the presence of lead but don't indicate the level of lead present. If an item tests positive you can remove it from use.
The Consumer Reports test found that the following were the best for ease of use and detection of lead; Homax Lead Check, Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit, and the Lead Inspector.