For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
This is a list of consumer goods you may want to consider testing with an XRF. You can also look up each of the various categories of items using the search bar here on LeadSafeMama.com, and you may find that I have already tested the same item (a similar item) or other items from the same company (the results of which will be a good indicator as to whether or not your item may have Lead).
- Please note: If you are hiring a hazard assessor to test consumer goods for Lead you MUST ask them if their instrument provides accurate readings in parts per million. If they do not have an instrument that does this, most of your readings will be useless — and you should definitely look for another hazard assessor. The most accurate instrument I am aware of (that has accuracy in both the low ranges and high ranges when determining lead content) is the Niton XL3T, or XL3T GOLDD+.
- Another note: If you are sending consumer goods to someone (anyone) to be tested PLEASE make sure they are well packed — as it is common for many ceramic and glass items (fine china, etc.) to break in shipping!
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This list is based on popular items people have sent me to test over the years! Here are consumer goods you may want to have tested for Lead (also for cadmium, arsenic, mercury, etc.):
- House keys
- Car keys
- Every day dishes (send only one item, generally the smallest piece, usually a saucer, unless you have sets from many years — in which case send one from each year of production you have)
- Fine china (same as #3 above)
- Coffee cups/mugs
- Food Packaging/ Tins & bottles (vintage or modern)
- Vintage or Antique Toys (80s and 90s and earlier)
- Vintage or Antique Dolls
- Vintage Barbie Dolls
- Vintage School Equipment/ Educational Aids
- Metal toys that were not marked as intended for children
- Musical instruments (or components of musical instruments)
- Kitchenware (but please double check here first I have tested so much for Lead you may find it here already! Look things up by brands and keywords!)
- Jewelry (costume to determine lead content, gold or silver to confirm what they are actually made of!)
- Older electrical cords or cables
- Door knobs
- Soil (not a consumer good, but follow collection instructions on this website or of the person you are sending it to)
- Promotional items that look like toys but are not labeled as such (for example, promotional slap bracelets)
- Bentonite clay
- Small appliances
- Appliance cords
- Pots and Pans
- Water bottles
- Wooden things that are painted
- Vintage or antique books
- Vintage records
- Decorative items
- Leather items
- Vinyl items
Things that cannot effectively be tested with an XRF — because they are toxic when they are positive for Lead in parts per billion — and the threshold of detection for XRF instrumentation is in parts per million (1 part per million = 1,000 parts per billion!):
Water, supplements, food items (such as chocolate, spices, etc.)
These types of items can only be tested using special laboratory equipment and procedures capable of detecting in parts per billion.
Things you should not bother having tested (especially if you are paying some per item to have things tested) because I can pretty much 100% guarantee they will not have Lead:
- Items that are 100% stainless steel (with no plastic components or painted coatings or markings).
- Things that are modern and natural (not recycled) wood (without paint, coatings or markings)
- New cloth items (clothing, dolls, pillows) that are marketed and made as a product for children (specifically items without buttons or zippers or other hard plastic or metal components).
- New power cords for computers and phones.
- New toys or baby items that are manufactured by big American companies (Modern Lego, Mattel, Hasbro, HotWheels, Playmobil, Melissa & Doug, etc. I also trust “Green Toys” 110%).
- Items I have already tested and published the results for. (If you cannot find something using the search bar, please send me an email or Facebook message and I will ask you to send me a picture and I will try to find you the link to the item or a similar item or category of items.)
Thanks for reading!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions!
“Unexpected Lead Expert”