Scientists at the University of Michigan have created a new, protoype lead paint test that uses gel to indicate if the paint has more than the regulated 5,000 parts per million of lead. "It consists of a vial that holds paint thinner and a sprinkling of certain salts that, when combined with the right concentration of lead, form a gel," Michigan News states. Michigan News continues to describe the process:
Users drop a paint chip in, heat the mixture and wait to see how the solution reacts. If a gel forms and the gel stays at the top of the inverted vial, it's positive for at least 5,000 ppm lead. If the solution stays liquid and no gel forms, there may still be some lead in the paint, but not enough to require special steps to maintain it or get rid of it.
This simple testing process will make it easier than ever for remodelers and homeowners to test paint for lead. The research took several years to complete and the university is now "pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market."