Commercially-available lead test kits used by consumers to detect unsafe levels of lead in their homes are not reliably accurate, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The agency recently issued a news bulletin regarding the kits after randomly testing several different models. False positive test results and false negative test results were both obtained, though false negatives were more common. Out of 104 tests, 56 tests provided false negative results and 2 provided false positives. According to CPSC, the results are consistent with previous determinations that home-based lead testing kits are unreliable.
The agency also examined the effectiveness of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing — a more sophisticated type of lead testing that requires advanced technology not commercially available to consumers. XRF tests must be conducted by professionally-trained technologists. Twelve out of 13 XRF tests in the CPSC trial correctly identified the presence of lead, making it a much more reliable method of screening potentially dangerous products.
CPSC urges consumers to use caution when relying on home-based lead testing kits to screen for potential lead exposure. Laboratory testing by qualified professionals is the only reliable method of detecting the presence or absence of toxic lead levels in consumer products.
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