Instant Lead Check 8 Test Swab Kit

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3M Instant Lead Check Test Kit, tester screening Lead Detector



  • Each kit comes with 8 individual lead tests.
  • The newest instant lead testing kit by 3M Company.
  • EPA Recognized test kit meets the negative response criterion of no more than 5 percent false negatives, with 95 percent confidence for paint containing lead at or above the regulated level, 1.0 mg/cm2 or 0.5 percent by weight.
  • EPA recognizes that when used by a certified renovator, the 3M Lead Check lead test kit can reliably determine that regulated lead-based paint is not present on wood or ferrous metal (alloys that contain iron). This kit is not EPA recognized for use on plaster and drywall.
  • Can be used by certified renovators for purposes of meeting the requirements of the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP) rule.
  • Totally self contained tests. No mixing of solutions.
  • Indefinite shelf life if ingredients are not mixed.
  • Utilizes the chemical Rhodizonate and proprietary ingredients to detect lead accurately and reliably.
  • Works on painted surfaces, Lead Chromate, solder and metal alloys, vinyl products, skin, fabric, clothing, rugs and dust.
  • Reliably detect to 0.5% lead in paint with virtually 100% accuracy.
  • Detects down to 2 micrograms of lead.
  • Swab turns pink with the presence of lead within 30 seconds.
  • Test chemicals are non-toxic and easily washed off from any surface.
  • Odorless, disposable and non-staining.
  • Includes test confirmation card to verify results.

Testing Procedure


Each 3M LeadCheck Swab contains two crushable vials (a & b). A lead reactive reagent is stored in one vial. The second vial contains pre-measured “activator’ solution. A confirmation card containing a small quantity of lead is included with the product to prove that the test was performed properly.

CRUSH - squeeze and crush points marked "A" and "B".


SHAKE AND SQUEEZE - Shake the Swab twice and squeeze gently until yellow liquid comes to the tip - the swab is now activated and ready for testing.


RUB - While squeezing gently to keep the yellow liquid at the tip, rub the Swab on the test area for 30 seconds.

Lead Paint Hazards

The most common way to get lead in the body is from dust. People can also get lead in their bodies from lead in soil, wateror paint chips when lead is swallowed or inhaled. Lead dust comes from deteriorating lead-based paint and lead-contaminated soil that gets tracked into your home. This dust may accumulate to unsafe levels. Then, normal hand to-mouth activities, like playing and eating (especially in young children), move that dust from surfaces like floors and window sills into the body. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips. Lead was banned from residential use in 1978.

People, especially children, can swallow lead dust as they eat, play, and do other normal hand-to-mouth activities. People may also breathe in lead dust or fumes if they disturb lead-based paint. People who sand, scrape, burn, brush or blast or otherwise disturb lead-based paint risk unsafe exposure to lead. Lead dust is often invisible. Even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies. Lead is especially dangerous to children under six years of age. Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing:

  • Reduced IQ and learning disabilities.
  • Behavior problems.
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches

Lead is also harmful to adults. In adults, low levels of lead can pose many dangers, including:

  • High blood pressure and hypertension.
  • Pregnant women exposed to lead can transfer lead to their fetuses.
  • Nerve disorders
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Memory and concentration problems


EPA Recognition of Lead Paint Test Kits

 Most homes Renovation, repair and painting activities may disturb painted surfaces and produce a lead-exposure hazard, so before undertaking this work in your home it is important to accurately identify the presence of lead-based paint. According to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) survey of the prevalence of lead-based paint hazards in the nation's housing, approximately 38 million pre-1978 U.S. dwellings contain lead-based paint. The federal standards for lead-based paint in target housing and child-occupied facilities is a lead content in paint that equals or exceeds a level of 1.0 milligram per centimeter squared (mg/cm2) or 0.5 percent by weight.

In the 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP) rule, the Environmental Protection Agency described criteria for lead test kits that detect lead in paint. Currently, a lead test kit can be EPA-recognized if it meets the negative response criterion of no more than 5 percent false negatives, with 95 percent confidence for paint containing lead at or above the regulated level, 1.0 mg/cm2 or 0.5 percent by weight.

Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law requires contractors that disturb painted surfaces in homes, child care facilities and schools, built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Always ask to see your contractor’s certification. Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renovating more than six square feet of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects or window replacement or demolition in housing, child care facilities and schools built before 1978.

To Test For Lead Paint

Most homes and apartment buildings built before 1978 have some lead paint with buildings built before 1960 having the most lead paint. While lead can be present in paint on any painted surface, lead-based paint is most often found in kitchens and bathrooms, and on windows, doors and railings in the interior. Exterior paint used on clapboards or shingles, window trim, porches, columns and railings of pre-1978 homes usually had high lead content. Surfaces that have been painted several times may have layers of lead paint underneath layers of non-leaded paint.

  1. If dirty, clean the surface with a household cleaner, rinse and dry.
  2. Cut a small V-shaped notch (about ¼ inch long) to expose all painted layers down to the bare surface.
  3. Activate a 3M LeadCheck Swab according to the instructions.
  4. Rub the activated Swab into the notch to determine if any of the paint layers contains lead.
  5. Examine the Swab tip and/or test surface for a color change to pink or red.


If the Swab and or the test surface turn a pink to red color, the test is positive for lead. Only lead produces a pink to red color with 3M LeadCheck Swabs.

If the Swab and or test surface did not turn pink or red no hazardous level of lead was detected. Use the confirmation card to confirm that the 3M LeadCheck reagents were active (the circle on the card should turn bright pink).

If the Swab and or test surface turn orange, the result is negative for lead but positive for barium which was sometimes added to paint as an extender. If lead were also present in the paint the Swab tip and or test surface would turn pink before turning orange.

If the Swab and or test surface turn purple, the result is negative for lead but positive for tin.

Testing Red Paint Surfaces

3M LeadCheck Swabs turn pink to red when lead is detected. It is important, when testing surfaces painted with red paint, to make sure that red pigment will not bleed from the paint surface onto the Swab tip. Using a white cloth, clean red surfaces with a few drops of distilled white vinegar. If the cloth turns pink or red use Sodium Sulfide to test the surface for the presence of lead.

Testing Paint on Plaster, Cement, or Stucco Surfaces

Plaster has been widely used as the finish surface for interior walls for over 150 years. Composed primarily of calcium sulfate (hemihydrate), plaster may interfere with 3M LeadCheck color development because some of the lead may bind to the sulfate in the plaster instead of the LeadCheck dye. It is possible, however, with a minimum amount of care, to accurately test for lead paint on plaster surfaces using 3M LeadCheck Swabs.

  1. Cut a notch into the paint down to the surface (See Instructions). Try not to break or scratch the plaster surface.
  2. Clean the notch by brushing or blowing out any surface dust collected in the notched area.
  3. Activate a 3M LeadCheck Swab according to the standard instructions.
  4. Rub the swab tip into the notched area of the paint for about 30 seconds.
  5. Check the swab tip, paint surface and paint edge for a pink to red color development.


If no pink color develops, be sure to confirm the negative result by rubbing the swab tip onto a dot on the Test Confirmation Card supplied with the kit. If the confirmation card dot does not immediately turn pink the test is not valid - surface dust has likely prevented the LeadCheck color development. Repeat the test using a new LeadCheck Swab. Note: If a yellow or orange color persists at the notched area or swab tip, this indicates the presence of barium, which was added to paints as an extender. The yellow/orange result is NOT a positive color change for lead.

Testing Solder

LeadCheck Swabs can be used to screen for lead solders used in household plumbing. In 1986 lead solders were banned from use on plumbing lines that brought incoming water to a tap. While the law bans the use of solder in excess of 0.2% lead, the truth of the matter is that the lowest concentration of lead found in household solder is 37%. Since the detection limit of 3M LeadCheck Swabs for lead in solder is 2%, a LeadCheck Swab quickly turns pink to red when testing commonly used tin/lead solders. LeadCheck Swabs will not turn pink when testing 0.2%, or "lead free" solder.

  1. Wipe the surface dirt off the solder joint of your pipe with a paper towel or cloth.
  2. Rub the solder joint with an emery board or rough up the surface with a piece of sandpaper.
  3. Activate a 3M LeadCheck Swab according to the directions.
  4. Squeeze the swab until a drop of the yellow/orange liquid drops onto the prepared solder surface.

Touch, DO NOT RUB, the swab tip to the wet solder surface and dab gently for ten seconds or less. Note: Vigorous rubbing may cause a metallic film to be deposited on the Swab tip. By lightly rubbing or dabbing the LeadCheck® reagent on the prepared solder surface the Swab tip will turn pink first, followed by a purple color if tin is present.


If the tip of the swab turns pink or red, the solder contains greater than 2% lead. The solder does not pass the Federal Code requirement for lead free solder.

If the tip of the swab turns purple high levels of tin have been detected. Repeat the test making sure to just touch the tip to the solder surface.

Testing Porcelain Fixtures

Porcelain enameled bathroom fixtures such as bathtubs and sinks have been recently identified as a source of lead exposure to young children. In a study involving over 1400 bathtubs, approximately 62% of the tubs tested positive for leachable lead with LeadCheck Swabs (77% of the cast iron bathtubs and 25% of the steel bath tubs were positive). Simply touching, or wiping the side of these leaded fixtures is enough to transfer a residue of lead from the surface to the hand. This is of particular concern for young children because of their high level of hand to mouth activity. In some cases, this source of lead could represent a significant lead exposure to very young children.

For over 100 years, lead has been added to porcelain enameling material. Both new and old fixtures may leach the lead; however, older bathtubs that have repeatedly been cleaned with abrasive cleansers leach the highest amounts of lead. Refinishing the tub surface encapsulates the lead and should eliminate this source of lead exposure.

  1. Activate a 3M LeadCheck® Swab according to the directions in the instruction manual.
  2. Rub the LeadCheck® Swab over a small area of the tub surface for 30 seconds, especially on the bottom of the tub where the enameled surface appears worn or "gritty". Also rub over any cracks or chips on the bottom or around the drain as these damaged areas may leach lead.
  3. Examine the Swab tip and/or tub surface for the development of a pink to red color.


Any pink to red color indicates that hazardous levels of lead are leaching from the surface. NOTE: Barium is a constituent in some porcelain enamels and causes the LeadCheck Swab to turn a yellow to orange color. A yellow/orange color is a negative result for lead.


Performance curves for 3M LeadCheck prove reliability. LeadCheck Swabs are consistently identified as a top performer in third party evaluation studies. Accuracy and reliability for test kits is best evaluated by establishing performance curves; the plot of the probability of a positive result vs varying lead concentrations. Examples of performance curves for LeadCheck Swabs are discussed below.

The Air Force Institute of Technology, Air University: A performance curve was determined for LeadCheck Swabs on paint containing lead chromate pigment (see Figure 5). This curve clearly demonstrates that LeadCheck Swabs produce a positive result nearly 100% of the time at paint concentrations of 0.5% lead and above. Paints containing very low concentrations of lead (below 0.1%) consistently gave a negative result, demonstrating the LeadCheck Swabs can also be used as a negative screen.

HybriVet Systems, Inc.: A performance curve for LeadCheck Swabs on varying concentrations of white lead in semi-gloss acrylic paint (Prepared by D/L Laboratories, New York). A positive result was obtained 100% of the time at lead concentrations near 0.5% and greater. These results show that LeadCheck Swabs can be used as a positive screen for leaded paint (>0.5%) and as a negative screening tool for non-leaded paint (<0.2%). More importantly, for lead concentrations between 0.2% and 0.5%, the pale pink color obtained indicates a potential health risk should that paint be disturbed. However, if an abatement decision is needed, the pale pink color should be interpreted as an inconclusive result for the amount of lead present and a paint chip sample should be taken for quantitative analysis. Performance curves generated using a variety of paint types and substrates clearly demonstrate that 3M LeadCheck Swabs detect lead in paint at 0.5% within a 95% confidence level, and will detect lead at levels below 0.5% with decreasing probabilities. These results conform to the range of ideal performance curves expected for a spot test kit as defined by the EPA.