CPSC Says Consumer Lead Testing Kits Are A Complete Waste Of Time

The CPSC has announced the results of a special investigation into the effectiveness of home lead testing kits. The verdict? Don’t waste your time.

CPSC staff used commonly available test kits on a variety of paints and other products containing different levels of lead. Many of the tests performed using the kits did not detect lead when it was there (false negatives); some indicated lead was present when it was not (false positives). Of 104 total test results, more than half (56) were false negatives, and two were false positives. None of the kits consistently detected lead in products if the lead was covered with a non-leaded coating. Based on the study consumers should not use lead test kits to evaluate consumer products for potential lead hazards.

This verdict comes as no surprise, but it’s nice to hear it from yet another source. Sorry, folks. Home lead testing kits are a bunch of crap.

CPSC Staff Study: Home Lead Test Kits Unreliable [CPSC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. pdxguy says:

    Tabby cat on the train!

  2. cobaltthorium says:

    I’m sure that these things are sold by the same fear-mongering salesmen that sell things like high-rise building parachutes and improv gas masks that, in a case of a real emergency, are more likely to suffocate you than save you from gas.

  3. Bourque77 says:

    Why dont they spend more time protecting consumers from the evil corporations and what not. Thats more important to me than if they think home lead tests work.

  4. yasth says:

    @Bourque77: I consider the company selling flawed testing kits evil. Do you for some reason not?

  5. Maulleigh says:

    That pic makes me lol out loud!

  6. Let the cat play with the lead-contaminated toys… After all, no studies have proven that cats are harmed by lead like humans are.

  7. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Maybe lead ingestion accounts for kitties being such bad spellerz.

  8. JiminyChristmas says:



  9. Thingamadad says:

    Is it coincidence that the CPSC issued this news the same day Consumer Reports said 3 of 5 kits it tested were useful? Hmmmm.

  10. bonafidebob says:

    Read the CPSC report for the real facts here. The tests ‘failed’ when there was paint or metal plating over the lead. That shouldn’t be a surprise — the test kits won’t work if the product is still in the box either — stop the presses!

    IMHO the kits are useful, if you’re smart enough to use them properly. Just swabbing the outside of a toy isn’t good enough. Make a scratch and get down to the metal or paint underneath the surface. I bet the test kit even says this in the directions. Easy.

    Oh, and if you use a kit that turns red on a soft red object (like a red crayon), it might be red from the crayon or from the lead. Again, not a surprise, and not conclusive evidence that the kits don’t work.