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Lead May be Found in More Places than Most People Realize


Testing for lead after recent high profile media news stories is becoming common.

Lead in consumer products, such as toys and jewelry, presents a potential serious hazard to the general public, especially to young children. Various plastics, paints and other surface coatings have historically utilized lead and other heavy metals as stabilizers. The deterioration of lead upon handling can cause adverse health effects.

EMSL Analytical, one of the nationís largest leading environmental laboratories, has been busy detecting the presence of lead and other heavy metals in consumer products.

Toys made of plastic and PVC are best analyzed using the X-Ray Fluorescence technique, as the lead in these substrates is often tightly bound and cannot reliably leach in an acidic solution. Consumer products made of metal and other substrates are best analyzed using an acidic digestion procedure.

The lead in surface coatings test is best applied to samples which have a uniform layer of print or paint that can be scraped. The scrapings then undergo an acid digestion process to promote lead solubility within a concentrated acid solution.

An acid extraction test simulates exposure to a potentially hazardous item after it has been ingested. The sample is suspended in a mildly acidic solution and extracted in series for a total of 6 hours to determine exposure limits.

Clients who are concerned about the effects of lead after a child has mouthed a toy should request the saliva leachate test. This test measures the concentration of lead likely to leach in a childís mouth. The procedure calls for agitation of the sample within a mildly acidic solution, followed by a rather gentle digestion.

A lead in vinyl products test for plastic and PVC products is also available. This test determines leachable lead concentration by mimicking the process of hand-to-mouth contact.

To learn more about EMSL Analytical and lead testing please visit, call (800)220-3675 or email


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 Environmental Laboratory

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