Testing Toys for lead

Some children’s toys and game pieces are still being made with lead containing materials. Lead is toxic and can cause serious health problems especially in children. Excessive amounts of lead in the bloodstream can cause neurological damage, loss of I.Q. points and even brain damage.

Some toys contain a lead core coated with a thin coat of another material (usually paint). In addition some of the toys are decorated with brightly colored lead containing paint and enamel coatings. Additional parts of the toys may be attached to the main body of the toy with lead containing solder. Handling lead containing toys can allow lead to accumulate on children’s hands. Lead enters the blood stream when children put their hands, or sometimes the toy itself, in their mouths.

It is not possible to tell whether an object contains lead just by looking at it. However, there are ways to test for the presence of lead in toys. One way recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is to have toys tested by a lab or a professional inspector using an XRF machine. This can be very expensive. Another, less expensive way, is to perform a "screening" test using LeadCheck® Swabs, an easy to use, non-toxic, do-it-yourself test.


Swab Method 1:

The brightly colored pigments and enamels used to decorate some toys may contain lead. To test for this, use the following protocol.

  • Activate a LeadCheck® Swab according to the instructions supplied with the kit.
  • Immediately rub the activated swab over the painted outer area while squeezing the liquid out of the swab.
  • Rub the swab tip vigorously over the test area for about 30 seconds.
  • Examine the Swab tip and or the surface of the test piece for any pink color.

  • Swab Method 2:

    Many toys have a lead core and a thin layer of another material on the surface. To detect the lead it is necessary to cut through the outer layer at an inconspicuous place so that the leaded inner layer is exposed. Test solder connections with the same method.

  • Activate a LeadCheck® Swab according to the instructions supplied with the kit.
  • Immediately rub the activated swab over the exposed inner area while squeezing the liquid out of the swab.
  • Rub the swab tip vigorously over the test area for about 30 seconds.
  • Examine the Swab tip and or the surface of the test piece for any pink color.
  • Interpretation of Results:
  • If an unmistakably pink color appears on the swab or the test piece lead is present. Any pink indicates the presence of lead. The intensity of the color indicates whether the level is high or low.
  • If no pink color appears on the swab or the test piece then hazardous levels of lead are not present. The toy will not leach lead onto hands.