Last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered the threshold for lead poisoning from 10 micrograms to 5 micrograms. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise – with a lower threshold – that more children ages 1-5 are considered at risk of lead poisoning – roughly twice the previous estimate: about 1 in 38 young children. Often, children who get lead poisoning live in older homes where paint chips are found and digested. Too much lead can harm a child’s brain, kidneys and other organs. But concern about lead poisoning declined significantly since 1978, when lead was banned in household paint.
The 3M Company created (and trademarked) the 3M LeadCheck Swab – a kit parents can buy at any hardware store (Lowe’s, Home Depot) to help instantly determine if their homes are lead-safe. The swabs are applied to painted drywall, wood, and plaster. And if lead is detected, it takes less than 30 seconds for the tested surface to turn pink or red. The 3M LeadCheck Swab is “EPA recognized” for effectiveness. Innovation, however, has its costs. In 2010, the state of Minnesota sued 3M claiming it released PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals used to make paints and other products) into local waterways. 3M has set aside $117 million for potential liability relating to its disposal and discharge of PFCs. 3M expects earnings to rise about 8 percent in 2013.