Answer: Your friend probably likes you a lot! She is likely an environmentally conscious person with a concern for your health and well-being and a concern for the health and well-being of your community and the planet as well. (That’s why she invited you!)
A #TestingParty is an opportunity to test consumer goods in your home – or your friend’s home (things you and your children might use every day) for neurotoxic metals—including lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.
At a testing party a bunch of friends get together and each friend brings a bag (or box) of things to have tested. Kids are welcome and encouraged to have a play space during the party (lining up a babysitter to corral the kiddos is always great if there are going to be a lot of children there)—and hosts usually also encourage everyone to bring potluck treats. #TestingParties typically last two to three hours (depending on how many friends come and how many things they bring to test).
I am trained, certified, and experienced in using an XRF* instrument to perform a scientifically precise and acurate, real-time analysis of your consumer goods for toxicity [the analysis will also confirm the presence and precise amounts of other (non-toxic) metallic elements—like the exact amounts of gold, silver or platinum in a particular piece of jewelry, for instance!] I typically test for Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic and Antimony and let attendees know if any item is unsafe (or potentially unsafe with normal use) based on whether or not it is positive for one or more of these toxicants (and at what level).
The type of XRF analyzer I use for these events is a state-of-the-art, crazy-expensive (about $50,000 for a new one!), high-precision scientific instrument, whose full technical description is, “A portable, (non-radioactive source) X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer”. The instrument I prefer is the Niton XL3T (700/800 or GOLDD+)—which is the very same model used by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test for toxicants in consumer goods.
When I identify toxic consumer goods at a testing party I also talk to the group about safer alternatives for that particular item or type of item – specifically what to look for in purchasing a replacement item (and what to avoid).
Everyone who participates in the #TestingParty chips in to help cover the costs – the main cost for the event is covering the rental of the XRF instrument (which ranges from around $600 to $700 a day to rent.)
It’s basically a crash course in protecting your family from potential exposure to toxicants commonly found in consumer goods. [In fact doctors, nurses, educators and other professionals often get CEUs (continuing education credits) to come hear me speak at public events – so in this forum you get the same information in a much more intimate and personal forum.]
Here are some more of the logistics for how the parties work:
- Typically folks chip in $125 for each half-hour of time they would like to use for testing things.
- Most people participating in a party either chip in $125 or $250.
- With $125 each, that works out to 6 friends getting together to do a 3-hour party.
- The testing I do at parties is a little different than the testing that I report on my blog; the XRF can give a pass/fail reading for heavy metals in as few as 10 seconds (sometimes less time depending on the metals content). People want to “get their money’s worth” so the focus of the testing parties is to test as many things as quickly as possible (while still being as accurate as possible within the parameters dictated by testing things quickly) for each person in the time allowed. This is different than the testing on my blog because when I test things for my blog I often spend 2 or 3 hours just testing one item (depending on how complex that item is / how many components it has.)
- In a half hour at a testing party I can generally test about 20 things, and sometimes more.
- For parties I suggest that folks bring 20 to 30 items for each half hour they contribute to cover, so if they contribute $250 they can bring as many as 60 items to test. I will then do my best to test as many of those items as possible in the time they have covered.
- When we do a party we usually create a Facebook group for the small event (or a text message thread) so people can exchange ideas about what they plan on having tested at the party – to avoid folks bringing a bunch of duplicate things.
- I encourage everyone coming to a party to take some time to review the index of this blog, so they have an idea of things I have already tested – and they can focus on making the most of their time by primarily bringing things that they cannot find examples of on the blog.
- While each person contributes to cover their own half hour or hour of testing – I do encourage participants to come and plan on staying the full three hours. It’s quite educational (and fun) and you learn as much from seeing the test results of what other people bring as you do as seeing the test results from the things you bring. Having all the participants there for the whole time of the party also helps to make it more fun and more educational for everyone who attends.
- For context: to get a single item tested companies might charge you $25 to $300 per item – or more depending on how complex the item is (at the higher end they will also often generate a written report), so this is a really cost effective way to screen a lot of items from your home quickly. Plus – I promise – it is also a lot of fun (entertaining even!)
- It’s kind of like a Tupperware party – but instead of buying stuff at the end, you usually end up throwing a bunch of stuff out (if we find things of yours that are possible toxicant exposure sources for your family.)
Most of the consumer goods posted on this blog (with their XRF test results) are items I came across at a testing party or home visit. A home visit is similar to a testing party – but is one-on-one… with just you and me!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
Mother of Four Sons