Do home test kits for lead really work?

You may have heard about home test kits, which are sold for use in the home to detect lead in paint, soil, and dust (and, in some cases, water, dishware, glasses, and ceramics). A chemical reaction occurs when chemicals in the kit are exposed to lead, causing a color change. The State Department of Health and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency do not recommend home test kits to detect lead in toys, paint, dust, or soil. Studies show that these kits are not reliable enough to tell the difference between high and low levels of lead. At this time, the kits are not recommended for testing performed by either homeowners or certified lead-based paint professionals.