If you are a consumer or individual, knowing what heavy metals are present and where they are in your home and belongings can help protect the health of both you and your family. This is particularly important if children are present in the home, as they are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of heavy metals. XRF testing can be used as part of a risk-assesment to identify potential hazards. Families can protect themselves by having either specific questionable items, or the contents of their homes tested. The information thus gained can be used to take appropriate safety precautions.
Note that lead-based paint, present in homes built before 1978, is particularly risky if deteriorated or disturbed and is subject to its own regulations. See Lead Paint section.
Manufacturers, importers and sellers of consumer goods are subject to recent regulations designed to protect the consumer, especially with regards to lead content (see Regulatory Compliance tab). However, many goods in circulation still contain high levels of toxic metals, either because they were made before the consumer product safety laws went into effect, or due to a lapse in quality control. Below are examples.
In many cases, the presence of a heavy metal per se does not mean an object is unsafe: it is a warning that it could be hazardous if certain conditions are met such as chemical/physical disintegration, ingestion or access to children. For example, while a lead-containing brass alloy may not pose a problem under normal circumstances, if it suffers corrosion, the lead is released in a form that poses a serious health hazard if ingested.
We offer consumer product safety testing for the presence of lead and other heavy metals. The options include mailing items to us (Mail-In Testing), or having someone from our firm do the testing at your residence or place of business (Fieldwork).