Are you a contractor looking for a lead-based paint test kit with the best value for money?
If so, this bulk 3M LeadCheck Swabs paint test kit, containing 144 swabs and comes with free shipping, is for you!
One of the bestselling test kits around, LeadCheck swabs will immediately detect lead on various surfaces or materials in a structure built before 1978, allowing you to set necessary precautions to minimize lead exposure throughout the duration of your project.
Among its noteworthy features are:
- Instantly changes color to red or pink once it detepcts lead. Or as 3M puts it, “RED MEANS LEAD”
- You get results in as little as 30 seconds
- It is capable of detecting lead even at 1 to 2 micrograms or 600 pmm
- With 144 swabs, this bulk pack specifically for contractors is enough to test multiple surfaces and rooms in at least one home or facility – no more running out of swabs when you least expect it!
- Contains Rhodizonate and other ingredients. These chemicals are capable of detecting lead instantly and with virtually no error
- Designed to be safely used by anyone, the solution is contained inside the swab and stays there until it is time to test. This means zero mess when mixing and using it.
- Comes with easy-to-follow instructions and a confirmation card that allows you to verify the test results, minimizing the chance of false positives or false negatives
- Swabs are non-toxic and do not emit any odors even while in use
- Recognized by the EPA, which means you get reliable results
- The most cost-effective way of testing for lead, as each swab costs less than $5
- Will not leave stains or damage the tested area
If testing confirms the presence of lead, you must apply the lead safe practices promoted by the RRP rule to ensure that your exposure to lead is minimal; this lessens your risk of acquiring the health hazards associated with lead. These health risks include issues with the nervous system, problems with coordination and motor skills, and damage to the liver and kidneys, among many others.
Contractors who comply with the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule, or RRP rule, that was established in 2008 can justify their higher rates, since their compliance assures property owners that the possibility of exposure to lead at all times is minimized.
And because these contractors follow lead safe practices, this shows the reliability of their service, which can get them more clients in return.
EPA-Approved Lead Paint Test Kit
The 3M LeadCheck Swabs instant lead test kit is only one of the three lead-based paint test kits that is EPA-approved. This means:
- It has a 95% level of confidence when it comes to the accuracy of results when it comes to paint with lead that exceeds or is at the regulated limit, which is 0.5% per weight or 1 milligram per square centimeter
- The probability of false negatives is less than 5%, which is within the negative response criterion of the EPA
Multiple tests have proven the accuracy of the 3M LeadCheck Swabs, and its EPA recognition means you can completely rely on it for your lead testing needs.
This instant lead test will also ensure that you comply with the RRP rule when it comes to lead testing. The rule requires a certified renovator to conduct lead tests on surfaces that will be affected by the renovation, repair, or paint work they will do in a pre-1978 home or facility.
Surfaces They Can Test
One of the best things about the 3M LeadCheck Swabs is that they can test surfaces of not just the interiors and exteriors of a structure, but also different items or materials. This offers versatility, which helps give your customers a peace of mind when it comes to matters involving lead.
Use the swab to check for lead in the following surfaces or materials:
- Doors and Door Frames
- Window Frames and Sills
- Kitchen Cupboards and Cabinets
- Brass in Key Rings and Inner Fixtures on Well Pumps and Faucets
- Ceramic Tiles, such as in Bathrooms, Hearths, and Kitchens
- Lead Chromate
- Metal Alloys
- Painted Surfaces, including those with red paint
- Porcelain Enameled Fixtures, like Bathtubs, Toilets, and Sinks
- Solder, including copper pipes for plumbing and stained-glass windows
- Steel Structures
- Dust Screening, especially in Carpeting, Fabric, the Entire Threshold, and Under Deteriorating or Damaged Paint
- Rugs, Clothing, and Fabric (for detection of lead deposits)
While you can safely do the test with bare hands, the risk for lead exposure is present even while testing, so you should still don the proper safety equipment while doing so.
3M LeadCheck Swab Instructions
Each swab consists of two vials; one vial houses the dye that will react to lead, while the other vial consists of an activator solution.
Testing most surfaces or materials for lead is very easy and requires little preparation. Anyone who will use the 3M LeadCheck Swabs to conduct lead testing must follow these general instructions:
- Crush both vials with your fingers on the sections marked ‘A’ and ‘B’. These vials are designed to be easily squeezed by hand.
- Find the tip of the swab with the porous fiber and make sure that it is facing downwards and shake the swab twice.
- To activate, squeeze the swab until yellow liquid starts coming out of the tip of the swab. Make sure to squeeze gently to avoid accidental drops.
- While squeezing, rub the swab tip onto the surface for 30 seconds.
After rubbing, check the tip for any change of color. If it turns red or pinkish, it means the tested area is positive for lead. If the tip remains unchanged, it means it may be negative for lead.
However, you need to confirm if the swab is activated before declaring a surface or material to be lead-free. To do that, place the tip of the swab onto one of the circles of the confirmation card. These circles contain traces of lead, and the swab tip should change color if it is active. If it does, it confirms that the surface you tested is free of lead. But if not, the swab was not activated and you should repeat the test.
While 3M LeadCheck Swabs do not expire or have a shelf life, it will only be active for use for 2 minutes once the vials have been broken and the solutions are mixed; make sure to test the surface or material immediately after crushing the vials.
Even if lead is not detected by the swab, it should not be reused on other surfaces.
Also, do note that while the instructions above generally apply to most surfaces or materials, there are some that require additional steps or entirely different methods of testing.
Testing on Painted Surfaces
Testing for lead on painted surfaces is straightforward:
- Make sure that the surface or material to be tested is clean and free of debris. Use a mild cleanser to wipe off any dirt present, rinse it off, and allow to dry.
- If already covered up by layers of paint, expose each layer by cutting or scraping a small notch that is deep enough to reach the surface; this allows all layers of paint to be tested.
- Activate the swab and rub it on the exposed area for 30 seconds and check the result.
The swabs can also detect lead pigments that are water soluble. However, you need to deal with lead chromate paint, as well as red lead or red painted surfaces, differently, as following these steps may yield false results.
Testing on Lead Chromate
Paints with lead chromate, or CR+6, are usually green, orange, yellow or red. Typically found in industrial and marine paints, lead chromate is insoluble in water, which means it will take time before the swab will change color to indicate the presence of lead.
This characteristic also means that testing on lead chromate is done differently; following the general instructions will not immediately yield results, even if lead is present.
To confirm this, check first if the swab is activated by letting a drop of the solution get to one of the circles of the confirmation card, but do not let the swab tip touch the circle. It must show a reaction to indicate that the swab is active.
Once activated, you can either:
- Put the used swab in a sealed plastic bag after testing the surface and set aside, checking every now and then for any changes. The tip may start changing color after 30 minutes, after a few hours, or even the following day. Or,
- Scrape off some of the paint that you suspect may contain lead, crush it, and either rub the swab onto the crushed paint or place some of the chips onto the tip of the swab itself. Place both the chips and swab inside a plastic bag and wait for the results.
You may have to wait as much as 18 hours before the swab starts showing signs of change; if it remains the same for more than that amount of time, it is safe to assume that there is no lead.
Testing on Red Surfaces or Red Lead
Testing for lead on red surfaces or red lead is challenging. It may be difficult to distinguish whether the swab turns red to indicate that lead was detected, or the red color of the surface simply bled onto the swab.
You should check if the surface will bleed by:
- Crushing the vial of the swab marked as ‘B’; allow vial ‘A’ to remain undisturbed.
- Allow a drop of the colorless liquid from the swab to get to the tip.
- Rub the surface of the swab and check if any color appears.
If the swab shows a red color, it means the red paint bleeds, and this will make interpreting the result difficult.
Testing steel surfaces is easier, as the red primer typically applied contains high levels of lead, allowing you to immediately check the results by following the general instructions.
Even if it bleeds, the red color from the primer is a lot darker compared to the red color that the solution can produce when it comes into contact with lead; the swab will produce a cherry red color that is a lot brighter than the color that bleeds.
Testing on Plaster and Gypsum or Drywall
This lead-based paint test kit has finally been EPA-approved to work on plaster and drywall as well since 2012. Unfortunately, the plaster dust and drywall sulfates present may affect accuracy, so testing must be done carefully to ensure that you get the right results.
Testing for lead on plaster and gypsum or drywall is done through this method:
- At a low angle of about 5 degrees, make a half-circle incision on the surface that is the size of a nickel. Ensure that the cut is deep enough to get to the plaster core or bare drywall to expose all paint layers.
- Fold the flap created by the cut downwards using the knife to create a pocket.
- Get the swab and hold it above the pocket. Only allow the liquid, not the tip, to drip to the pocket and the folded flap; make sure that the liquid gets into all the exposed layers of paint.
- Rub the swab only around the flap’s periphery, particularly on the exposed paint layers. Do not let the tip of the swab touch the drywall or plaster.
A red or pink color will appear along the edges of the flap or cut with the exposed layers of paint if lead is present. If not, confirm the result using the confirmation card, following the general instructions.
Testing on Solder and Metal Alloys
Testing on these surfaces requires careful application, as a metallic film can form on the swab tip when rubbed too long or too hard, which may compromise the results.
Follow these steps when testing on solder and metal alloys:
- Slightly score the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper or emery cloth and get rid of the dust by wiping off the surface with a clean cloth afterwards.
- Follow the general swab activation instructions.
- Apply a drop of the solution onto the surface.
- Lightly brush the solution onto the surface with the tip of the swap. Never rub the tip onto the solder or alloy.
- Immediately check if it shows a pink color, as the swab may also turn purple if tin is present, which will obscure the pink color.
- Repeat the test if the swab turns purple, especially if you were unable to verify if it turned pink.
“Lead-free” solder is not completely lead-free, since it can be declared as such if the lead content does not surpass 0.2%. The swab can detect traces of lead higher than that amount.
Lead may be present in dust, that is why the 3M LeadCheck Swabs can also be used for dust screening.
While you can simply follow the general instructions when testing dust found on surfaces confirmed to have no lead, it must be done differently for tests on surfaces with lead-based paint.
Testing on surfaces with lead involves these steps:
- Gather a small amount of dust to be used as a sample, then place it on plastic wrap or a plastic dish.
- Activate the swab, following the general instructions.
- Rub the swab over the dust for 30 seconds.
Lead dust will instantly give you results, but it can be difficult to track color changes when working with dark dust. To do so, place the dust on a porous surface instead, such as a paper towel, and allow the solution from the swab to drip over it. The paper towel will show hints of a red or pink color if lead is present.
Testing on Vinyl
Do note that testing on vinyl is done differently, since lead may be hidden deep under its layers:
- Scratch or abrade the vinyl hard enough to expose all the layers.
- Follow the general instructions to activate the swab.
- Squeeze the swab to release liquid and rub it onto the surface vigorously for 30 to 60 seconds.
A pink color should appear if lead is present, but it may take time before any change of color appears. This color may also be uneven because of clumped lead salts or have a darker shade as time passes. The swab may also produce an orange color, but this does not indicate that lead was detected.
Testing for Lead on Electronics
Just like in metal alloys and solders, testing for lead on electronics should be done carefully to prevent a metallic film from forming. Also, the surface to be tested must be free of dirt, marks, fingerprints, oil, and other substances, and must be dry when tested. you can also score its surface to get better results.
Follow these instructions to properly test on electronics, particularly on the solder:
- Activate the swab by following the general instructions.
- Vigorously rub the surface using the swab, making sure to lightly squeeze while doing so in order to release the solution to the tip.
- Check if the swab shows a pink color.
- Make sure to remove the cleaning solution, which is either a flux remover or defluxer, by allowing it to run off the board. Set it aside to dry first before using or soldering.
This test can detect a minimum of 0.1% lead on the surface of the solder.
Detection of Lead Deposits on Clothing, Fabric, or Rugs
Lead deposits can settle on fabric, rugs, or even clothes, and these can be detected using the 3M LeadCheck Swabs:
- Before activating the swab, dip its tip first on water and remove any excess water by placing the tip on a paper towel.
- Rub the damp swab vigorously for 30 seconds on the material that you believe has been exposed to lead, making sure not to break the swab’s vials just yet.
- Follow the general instructions for swab activation.
- Squeeze the swab to release the liquid onto the tip and rub it onto a piece of waxed paper, a white plastic dish, or plastic wrap for 30 seconds.
- Observe if the swab shows a pink color.
Lead ion, or Pb++, is present if the swab changes color. Note that this test can detect as little as 1 to 2 micrograms of the ion.
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