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XRF Testing

As an outreach and education program of the Lead Safe America Foundation – as well an an opportunity to help promote the film – we are hosting “Testing Parties”— both independent of, and also in conjunction with screenings of the film.

What is a Testing Party?

First and foremost – a Testing Party is A LOT of FUN!  I know it might sound funny (“how could testing for possible toxicity [lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.] in my stuff be fun?”), but it really is fun (as well as a great opportunity to introduce your friends and family to the concept of environmental toxicity in a gentle and non-confrontational way!) [It’s really difficult for people to accept that their homes may have hazards that can cause brain damage in young children – because it’s difficult for them to think about what they might have to do to their home to make it safe, but it is really easy for people to consider environmental toxicity in their stuff – because replacing it with new, safe, “green” stuff is easy—and oh so fashionable!]

So this is how a Testing Party works: I come to your home and test your stuff…dishes, crystal, jewelry, family heirlooms, painted furniture, antiques—especially antique children’s things (you’d be shocked at how many of these contain extremely high levels of potent neurotoxins in their paints & other finishes!) for lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury – and any other metallic elements (I can even tell you exactly how much gold is in that gold ring!)…

For a FREE testing event in Portland: You invite 5 or 6 friends over and each brings a bag or box of items and I test them with a $40,000 Niton XRF instrument  – and share the results of the testing with you.

If you look on the Facebook page for our film you can see photos from some of these testing parties. On Facebook, I post an image of the item with the specific lead reading for that item. The XRF tests the amount of lead in an item measured in “parts per million” (ppm); an item is considered toxic for a child with a reading of 90 or 100 ppm depending on the item and testing methodology. Total lead-content in most other items (items not intended for children) is not usually regulated. What is regulated (in some cases and some areas) is the requirement to label something with potential toxic chemicals (Prop 65 warnings), and also whether or not something might leach lead (some newer dishes & cookware and plumbing fixtures.) Antiques, heirlooms and other items made before this legislation was enacted are not generally regulated in any way and – as such – can legally contain high levels of toxic substances.

If we find items in your home that test for lead, I offer you information about non-toxic alternatives for whatever those items are.

I live and work in Portland, Oregon so the majority of our testing parties happen here.

If you are interested in having a testing party in another city or state see below.*

What do I have to do to host a Testing Party?

  1. Set a date (call or e-mail and find out when I am available)
  2. Invite your friends (5 or 6 ideally)
  3. Have them each bring a bag or box of stuff (dishes, antiques, dolls, toys, jewelry, crystal, etc.)
  4. Have it be a “pot-luck” or provide your own munchies and beverages for your guests (wine is always good :-))
  5. Expect a 2-hour event, as it takes one to two minutes to test each item and then time in between to answer questions and suggest alternatives.
  6. Children—especially science-nuts and kids in the 8-12 range— are always fascinated by the testing instrument and the results!, and I encourage children in that age-range or older (and any children who are interested in science!) to attend, however very young children and babies might make it difficult to concentrate on what there is to learn, so if there is a budget for a babysitter to help watch the kids during the party – that is also highly recommended!

Does it cost anything?

LOCAL Testing Parties (Portland, Oregon):
Testing Parties are offered in Portland, Oregon (our home-base) free of charge for up to two hours, however – as we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, donations are always welcome and may be tax-deductible. To qualify for a free testing party we require that you have a turnout of at least five guests plus yourself (minimum, 6-people.)

*Out-Of-Area Testing Events (not in Portland, Oregon):
See donation level chart below

PRIVATE One-On-One In-Home Testing & Community Events:
Full-day or half-day private (in-home) testing is possible as well. We can also do full- or half-day community testing events for corporations or other agencies (where employees or the general public is invited); See donation level/ donor benefit chart on the following link:

Please e-mail us to set a date and – if you are donating – make your donation via PayPal.
Thank you!

Testing parties and events are an outreach and education project of the Lead Safe America Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Tax-ID #45-1262978.

6/21/2014 – NOTE: while our XRF operator IS trained and certified in using the instrument (and our instrument is a Thermo Fisher Scientific Niton XL3t GOLDD+  which provides a larger range of testing capabilities than most instruments in the field used for risk assessments – and can test for lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other metals and their concentration) we are NOT a Certified Risk Assessor or Certified Hazard Assessor; we do not provide a written report of results for items or surfaces tested during these events. Testing is done free of charge (or as part of an outreach event that is a benefit of a donation to LSAF) and for informational purposes only. We encourage event attendees to bring a digital camera and a notebook to help record any results they find interesting, important or significant – in terms of making choices to keep their homes and families lead-free.  We also are happy to refer to local Risk or Hazard Assessors in your area if you need someone to test for lead-paint hazards in your home.

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