Lead Test Kits

October 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lead can cause serious health problems, including damage to the brain and nervous system. While lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978, every home built before then probably has some. Consumer Reports staffer Ed Perratore checked for lead in his home using several do-it-yourself test kits. "For all of them, they did indicate that lead was there."

Consumer Reports also ran lab tests on the seven kits costing between eight and 30 dollars. Testers added lead to latex paint in varying amounts and then painted it on boards. The kits were tested on the boards to see how low a level of contamination could be detected.

Don Mays, Consumer Reports, says "All the kits we tested detected lead down to 2-thousand parts per million. And none made any false identifications of lead."

To use most of the kits, you cut through the layers down to the base paint. Then check the painted surface. If lead is present, there will be a color change.

Mays says, "Choose a kit that turns a different color than paint that you're testing, so you can tell if lead has been detected."

Consumer Reports says some good choices are the Abotex lead test Kit, which turns yellow-to-black, and the Leadcheck kit, which turns pink-to-red.

"If your home tests positive for lead paint, hire a certified inspector to confirm that you have lead. If necessary, hire someone with special training to cover up or remove the lead," says Mays.

You can locate a certified lead inspector and lead-removal expert by going to the EPA's website.

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