LEAD Action News Vol 3 no 2 Autumn 1995 ISSN 1324-6011
Niton's XL Spectrum Analyzer
This article appears in Discover Journal in October 1994.
It's been almost a hundred years since Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays, a feat that Lee Grodzins believes to be "probably the most important single discovery for modern physics". Important too for Grodzins' design of the XL Spectrum Analyzer, the first hand held device that uses low-energy X-rays to measure the amount of lead in paint. Knowing whether there's lead in a home is important given that ingesting or breathing lead dust can result in brain injury, blindness, and even death.
Grodzins' $12,000 instrument has enormous appeal for lead inspectors because it's the first pocketsize machine that can quickly and accurately measure the lead present in paint on exposed surfaces, where it is most likely to be inhaled or ingested. The XL can analyze a painted wall and determine the amount of lead in the paint within 20 seconds. The device isn't fooled by what's behind the paint--substrates and construction materials that may contain lead but that don't pose a risk to the home's inhabitants. With results from the XL, homeowners can zero in on the offending lead rather than undertaking a more expensive and intrusive abatement procedure over a wider area.
A professor of physics at MIT for 35 years, Grodzins decided to test the lead-measuring potential of low- energy X-rays. Unlike the high-energy X-rays used in more traditional monitoring equipment low-energy X- rays don't penetrate beyond the surface of materials like painted walls. Based on this property of the X-rays, Grodzins was able to determine mathematically the amount of lead near and on the surface of an object. Charles Parsons, head of research and development at Niton--Grodzins' environmental products company, in Bedford, Massachusetts--transformed Grodzins' ideas into an accurate lead detector.
From Safety News, produced by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Washington D. C
Washington, D.C. - Ann Brown, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), challenged the toy industry today to stop producing toy guns that look like real guns. Last week, several major toy retailers announced that they would no longer sell real-looking toy guns. The CPSC chairman called on toy manufacturers to stop producing the look-alike guns, Speaking to the Toy Manufacturers of America meeting in Miami, Chairman Brown said, "I applaud the action of Toys R Us, Kmart Sears, Target, Kaybee, and Bradlees to stop selling toy guns that look like or could be modified to look like real guns. Fatal accidents with guns involving kids are tragic. Real-looking toy guns may be a small part of the problem of violence in our society, but is the part of the problem we can solve. Today, I challenge the toy industry to stop producing any guns that look like or could be modified to look like real guns. This would he a meaningful contribution to the safety of American children."
From Safety News, produced by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Washington D. C.
Washington, D.C. - In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Shure Products Inc., Chicago, Ill., is Voluntarily recalling about 14,000 "Kaleidoscope Art sets, item no. 820.
Although the product box is labelled "non-toxic" and conforms to ASTM D4236" (an art products safety labelling standard), these crayons contain enough lead to present a lead poisoning risk to young children, who might eat or chew on the crayons. Shure Products and Toys R Us, the retailer for these sets, initiated the recall after CPSC laboratory analysis showed that Kaleidoscope Art set crayons had high levels of lead.
The Kaleidoscope Art sets, which Shure imported from China, were sold nationwide by Toys R Us from January through August 1994. Each Kaleidoscope Art set contains a box of eight crayons, six sheets of "line art" (geometric shapes to colour), and a six-inch kaleidoscope. Children are supposed to colour in the geometric shapes and view them through the kaleidoscope. The set is labelled "Ages 4 and up".
Consumers who own the Kaleidoscope Art sets should take them away from children immediately and return them to Toys R Us for a refund. For more information about this recall, consumers may call Shure Products Inc., at (312) 633 9002 or write to Richard Moy, consumer affairs manager, Shure Products Inc., 1474 West Hubbard Street Chicago, Ill. 60622.
CPSC learned of the problem with these art sets from the New York State Consumer Protection Board. According to Shure, they had the products tested in the appropriate manner at a private testing laboratory.
Although CPSC and Shure Products Inc. have not received any reports of injuries or illnesses involving Kaleidoscope Art sets, the commission and the company are conducting this recall to prevent the possibility of injury or illness.
For more information on leaded product recalls, go to lead poisoning hazard consumer product recalls
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Updated 15 November 2012