You learn something every day. Recently I made the off-hand comment that, short of a home metallurgy lab, families couldn't tell whether the paint on their children's toys contained too much lead.

Well, it turns out (with thanks to readers) that there are fairly cheap counterparts to the home metallurgy labs, for instance this one.

This doesn't change the main point -- people really shouldn't have to be checking toys this way after they've bought them, any more than they should have to check the drinking water for e. coli or each carton of eggs for salmonella. This is what public health departments are for. But it could be useful info for people who already have questionable products at home.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to