The goal of Phase II is to develop the world's first safe, inexpensive, and easy to operate lead detector for consumers that can reliably detect dangerous levels of lead in toys and other products. It will be based on a high sensitivity yet inexpensive X-ray fluorescence technology developed by RMD. The proposed program will result in a unique product that offers: (1) high sensitivity, to identify objects containing dangerous amounts of lead, (2) low cost to encourage widespread testing by consumers and other end users and (3) convenient operation requiring no training or licensing. Lead and its compounds have been rated as top chemicals that pose a great threat to human health. Despite increasingly stringent government regulations, lead contaminated components continue to penetrate the supply chain and show up on retailer shelves. Furthermore, testing of second hand items, purchased in resale shops or handed down to younger children, is practically non-existent. The problem is not due to the accuracy or sensitivity of existing lead detection technology, but rather to the high expense, safety and licensing barriers of available test equipment. We propose to use RMD's advanced solid-state detectors combined with recently patented lead detection techniques to develop a consumer oriented lead detector that will be widely available and easy and inexpensive to use. We propose a rental/lease model to keep costs low and encourage widespread testing by consumers at home and in schools and daycare centers. The main impact of Phase II will be households that are safer for children because parents finally have an affordable way to identify potentially hazardous, lead-containing products. In Phase I, we demonstrated the feasibility of designing such a device. In Phase II we will perfect the technology, culminating in the fabrication of a highly functional prototype lead detection instrument. RMD has the personnel, facilities and experience to develop a lead detector for consumer use. Though a small company, RMD now manufactures lead detectors for professionals that detect lead in paint and in solder. With the new sensors and measurement technologies detailed in the Phase II proposal, RMD believes it is now possible to overcome the difficulties associated with developing a lead detector for consumers based on a safe, low intensity, unlicensed source.
In spite of increasingly stringent regulatory limits for lead content in consumer products, toys and household products containing lead continue to find their way into the consumer household. The reason it is so hard to identify and eliminate items containing egregious amounts of lead is that current tests are very expensive to perform and require the involvement of a trained technician or a full service testing laboratory. We propose to develop an inexpensive, simple to operate instrument which can be made widely available to consumers to test items in their own homes. The public health impact is that convenient, widespread testing will remove lead contaminated items from use before children are exposed.