In just the last week ... nine more toys were found to be tainted with lead.
Retailers and toy makers say they are stepping up efforts to test for lead before the holidays ... but many families are taking matters into their own hands.
Tonight Money Alert Reporter Paula Toti checks out the do-it-yourself ... lead test kits.
We know some of the toys on this table contain lead.
"Alright this one is positive."
We enlisted the help of the Cincinnati Health Department ... and its lead risk assessor ... Cynthia McCarthy. First we used the city's testing gun that x-rays the toys.
All this will tell you is that lead is somewhere in the toy ... maybe in the paint on top ... or below the surface.
"And lead is used as a stabilizer in the manufacture of vinyl."
And the lead can be in the plastic. The lead gun is hard to use on curves. The home test kits are designed for the rounded edges ... and should be able to detect lead specifically on the surface of an object.
"Rub swab on the test area for 30 seconds."
We should get a positive reading almost instantly.
we rubbed several toys looking for the tip of the swab to turn pink ... showing positive for lead. over and over we got .
we even tried a kit with a slightly different design ... one where a Q-tip is dipped in a liquid.
"This is the premium lead kit."
The manufacturer of the product didn't respond to our questions about performance.
It's possible lead was only under the surface in the toys we tested with our gun. But even when we scratched through the surface on toys that had given a positive reading ... our lead sticks didn't change color to show the presence of lead.
To put this in perspective ... the home test kits only cost a few dollars. This test gun $20,000 and it's not even designed specially to test toys. The manufacturer does now have one ... it's $40,000.
Since the lead toy scare ... so called lead testing parties have sprung up across the country.
"I am relieved if you can tell that this is negative result."
Even before our test Cynthia felt the home kits would give a false sense of security.
"They're likely to give a false reading, and more likely to give a false negative than false positive."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has said the tests are unreliable ... and found in tests that the kits couldn't find lead when it was coated with a non lead substance ... that a child could still bite through. Advocates of the kits say they can detect lead .. just not specific amounts.
"I think we're saying the stuff doesn't work. It's not reliable, not worth spending money on, no, no."
And don't look for recalls on the toys we found to have lead ... a small amount is legal.
"And lead hazard the size of a grain of salt can cause elevated lead level in a child, so it takes a very small amount. "
Following our reports on lead .. we're teaming up with the Health Department to test for free any toys you might have questions about.
Cincinnati Health Department Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
- Toy Testing
- Wednesday, November 14,2007
- 4:00p.m. -7:00 p.m.
- Hirsh Recreation Center Gym
- 3630 Reading Road
- Cincinnati, Ohio 45229
- For additional information call 357-7420 or 751-3393