Traffic signals can slow motorists

Friday evening traffic backs up to the Wappoo Cut Bridge as commuters turn onto Maybank Highway, from Folly Road.

An online sales pitch from a manufacturer of home lead test kits claims they make great stocking stuffers to test toys bought at Christmas.

"Another Toy Recall? Is there lead in your kid's toys?" a different manufacturer queries.

Home lead test kits are available at local home improvement stores for less than $5. Online bulk orders of eight usually start in the range of $13.

But do they work?

Not according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which announced in October its results of a special evaluation of consumer lead test kits.

Most kits consist of swabs that turn pink when they detect lead. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff used commonly available test kits on a variety of paints and other products containing different levels of lead. Many of the kits did not detect lead when it was there (false negatives) and some indicated lead was present when it was not (false positives), the commission said.

Of 104 total test results, 56 were false negatives, and two were false positives. None of the kits consistently detected lead in products if the lead was covered with a non-leaded coating.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that testing by a qualified laboratory and trained personnel is the only way to accurately assess the potential risk of lead.

The commission lists recalls online at www.cpsc.gov. Consumers also can sign up to get free recall and safety information by e-mail.