Should You Test Your Children's Toys For Lead? No.

The Times is reporting that some overzealous parents are manually testing their children’s toys for lead. Take Andrew Jones, a well meaning but admittedly paranoid father to a 3-year-old:

Like many parents, Mr. Jones said he was suspicious of all of his daughter’s toys now that millions of items for children have been recalled for high levels of lead.

To put his mind at ease, Mr. Jones bought several LeadCheck swab kits from his local hardware store to test dozens of his daughter’s toys. So far, he has not found any lead.

After the jump, we explain why this is an utter waste of time.

Home testing kits are not reliable. If you want an accurate reading, be prepared to shell out $25,000 for an industrial grade scanner.

Don’t believe us? How about the CPSC, EPA, and CDC? Oh, you hate the government and only trust the private sector? Fine, let’s ask the makers of the home testing devices: “Vendors say that test kits are not intended to gauge lead levels but can be useful for parents.” So what exactly do they do? “…they can empower the consumer and help parents rule out a product.”

We’re all for empowering consumers, but parents concerned about the dangers of lead poisoning should focus their fidgety need for action on the lead in old house paint – a significantly more potent and reliable source of danger to children. For now, testing for lead at home has all the use of digging up the backyard in search of gold, without the prospect of finding anything valuable.

Some Parents Test Toys at Home [NYT]
(Photo: Yogi)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.