Monday, May 27, 2013

Lead Check Swabs Helped Us Find Lead In/On Our Paint

I bought an 8-pack of these Lead Check swabs because our son had a slightly elevated blood lead level and I wanted to figure out where the lead is coming from. I also bought and use the WaterSafe Lead Test Kit to verify that our drinking water (tap water filtered using a PUR faucet filter) had no lead. It didn't.

The building we live in was built in 1940s and had lead in its paint at the time. I assumed that its interior walls were repainted multiple times since then and therefore lead was not an issue. So I didn't know where lead could have come from and was intending to test the walls, dust and toys as well as the clothes that he likes to chew.

The 8-pack of these test swabs arrived in a hard plastic case with a detailed manual and lead test sheets (they contain lead so you can verify that the swabs do indeed work).


The test strips need to be crushed in two places, shaken and squeezed "lightly" until yellow fluid appears on the tip. Then you have a minute, during which you rub the surface to be tested for 30 seconds and try to detect if either the tip of the swab or the surface being tested turns pink or red.

This is how it is supposed to work. In practice, it is difficult to "gently" squeeze the swab, so every time the liquid dripped on the floor. Also, I wasn't quite sure of the result at first. But when the tests were complete, it turned out that our brand-new-looking paint contained some lead and so did (to a smaller extent) window frames. The dust didn't and neither did the zipper that my son likes to teethe on.

So now I know why he has slightly elevated lead (he likes to lick the walls). I am shocked that there is still lead on the walls and took measures to cover up the areas where he can get to them.

Pros: Not very exepnsive, work well, helped us find lead in/on paint, fast-act
Cons: Not very easy to use, watch for fluid dripping on floors

Bottom Line

The Lead Check Swabs helped me figure out the source of lead in our apartment and I can now take measures to reduce our exposure. Although not very easy to use, these swabs work well and produce immediate results. I recommend them together with the WaterSafe Lead Test Kit.

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