Testing Toys for Lead

We bought a wooden toy from Sri Lanka and it got me thinking about how most of our toys are made overseas. Sure, the United States has laws against lead paint, but how often are children’s products tested for compliance?

Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems, and at high levels, even death. So, I went to a hardware store and bought a lead test kit. There were several options, all under $12.

Testing methods and degrees of accuracy vary between kits. The one I chose was a simple surface test which didn’t require chipping off a paint chunk. A four-inch-long thin clear plastic tube had two liquid-filled chambers inside. I squeezed both ends of the tube to break the chambers and shook the tube to mix the liquids. Then I squeezed one end of the tube to force the liquid into a swab on the other end… and rubbed the swab on the toy for thirty seconds to see if the swab’s tip changed color. It didn’t. End of story.

Prevention of lead poisoning [University of Michigan Health System]

Lead fact sheet [US Environmental Protection Agency]

Protecting your child from lead poisoning begins when you’re pregnant [Healthy Baby]

National Lead Information Center (for questions)

Pro-Lab Professional Lead Surface Test Kit [Ace Hardware]

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