Are 3M/LeadCheck Swabs “Safe”?

Originally published December, 2013
Updated April 2017

I get this question every now and then – so I thought I would post the question and my answer here.  I also asked the folks at 3M for their take:


Hi Tamara,
I read the back of our lead testing kit, and was so disappointed to read that it contains known carcinogens that I am unable/unwilling to use them. Has the 3M company given you any reassuring *facts* about this statement that might ease the mind of someone like me?

Thank you,

My Answer:

Hi Kim!

The kit has a slip of paper in it that is used as a “control”   – the slip has lead on it (in dots that are outlined in black), so you can check to see if a swab is working if for some reason you don’t think it is.

That is the only toxic substance in the kit to my knowledge – (and it makes sense for it to be there in case folks have questions about the validity of the test they are doing.)

In most cases the paint your are testing – the paint that is on the walls of your home is – unfortunately – 100 to 1000 times more toxic than the sample that is in the kit.

– Tamara

3M’s Answer


That is the correct answer.  The cards do contain lead as a positive control to ensure the user the product is working correctly.  So the cards are the hazardous portion of the kit.

David, 3M Corporate

Please let me know if you have any more questions!

Tamara Elise Rubin
“Unexpected Lead Expert”
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children

If you appreciate what I do (including XRF testing of consumer goods and sharing the results here and on Twitter and Facebook!), the simplest way you can help support my advocacy work at NO EXTRA COST to you is to click on the Amazon affiliate links in the post or Amazon ads to the right on this page (or on the bottom if you are on your phone!). If you click on any of the links before you start your Amazon shopping as you normally would, then Amazon sends me a percentage of whatever you spend (up to 12% in April if you start by clicking on the Amazon ads on the side of this post!) – and you don’t even have to buy the items pictured! 😉

Also – when we reach $5,000 on my GoFundMe, Carissa and I are going to do another round of #GuerrillaXRFTesting at a store chosen by our followers (like the #GuerrillaXRFTesting we did at Target back in February!)

Happy shopping!  & Thank you for your support!  – Tamara

2 Responses to Are 3M/LeadCheck Swabs “Safe”?

  1. Robert Thomas December 20, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    I just came onto your post and found it quite interesting.I am also associated with moldanalytical.It gives services like mold testing, black mold, mold cleaning. Thanks again for writing such a good post.

    Explore more about Mold cleaning Las Vegas

    • Tamara December 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      Thank you for doing what you do Robert!

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