7 DIY test kits that can reveal hidden info about you, your pet, and your home

Learn where your ancestors are from, the breed of your rescue dog, and if your home is safe with these easy at-home kits.

Photo by Dimitri Bong on Unsplash
  • There is a lot we can learn from the saliva in our mouths and the air in our homes.
  • There are at-home DIY tests for just about everything, but not all of them are as accurate as they claim.
  • From revealing the breed of your dog to testing your home for harmful gases, these kits are worth the money.

We've all heard the ads and seen the commercials. If you want to know where your great grandparents are from or if your beagle has a little golden retriever in him, there is a kit for that and it can be on your doorstep in 2 business days. The market for do-it-yourself medical kits is projected to reach $340 million by 2022, and with that comes more companies overselling themselves and their product as cheap alternatives to real science. Not all at-home test kits are bad, but some are more worth it than others.

Scientists and experts warn that consumers should proceed with caution when it comes to offering up their DNA and personal information. Adding your spit (or your dog's slobber) to a tube and blindly sending it to a PO Box across the country is not a small thing, which is why the reputation of those offering the services and reviews by independent parties are important. For the DIY kets on this list, we looked at recommendations from trusted sources, as well as online customer reviews to see which products delivered on their promises and which should be avoided. From radon testers to ancestry and health reports, here are 7 ways to discover more important information about your life.

Finally learn your dog's breed and if it is at risk of certain genetic diseases.

Dying to know what breed your adorable companion really is? This easy and affordable test can help! While scientists warn that the science of pet DNA tests is not yet perfect, the Embark Dog Breed + Health has a few things working in its favor. First and foremost, it was developed through a partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (one of the top veterinary colleges in the United States) and geneticist Spencer Wells. The doggie saliva swab test screens for 250 breeds and tests for over 170 genetic diseases, though a trusted doctor should be consulted before any treatment begins. Rescue moms and puppy pops reviewing the product on Amazon reported receiving their results in 2-7 weeks, but the wait is worth it.

If you suspect your home is hiding lead, this kit will help you know for sure.

According to the EPA, the older the house the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint. The U.S. government banned the use of lead-containing paint in 1978, but there are millions of homes that are still filled with the potentially hazardous material. Since 2008, only three lead test kits have been recognized by the agency's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule. 3M's Lead Check is listed as Amazon's Choice for such kits, and the reviews support the pick. The disposable swabs can be used on any surface. There are 8 in this pack, which should be enough to test every room in an average home. If lead is detected, the swabs turn pink in as little as 30 seconds, alerting the user that future steps need to be taken to ensure the safety of his/her family.

This popular ancestry and wellness test provides over 150 personalized reports.

Combining the company's ancestry service with health predisposition reports, this package deal is a bargain for the price. With only a swab of saliva, buyers can learn where their family hails from across 1500+ regions included in 23andMe's databases. The kit includes over 150 personalized genetic reports on variables such as traits, ancestry, wellness, and carrier status for numerous diseases, disorders, and deficiencies. 23andMe is the first direct-to-consumer DNA company to be granted FDA approval for tests associated with cancer risks, which has done a lot for their reputation in recent months.

Easily test your drinking water for bacteria, pesticides, and other contaminants.

According to a multi-test comparison conducted in 2012 by Good Housekeeping and the Water Sciences Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the PurTest Water Analysis kit most accurately detected the things it said it would on the label. Using vials and test strips, the kit does not involve sending samples to a lab for analysis and does not have additional fees added onto the retail price. Everything you need to test up to 19 samples is right in the package, including a handbook and results sheet.

Radon is dangerous and it's important that your home be tested for it.

The second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that you do not want around your family and pets. Recommended by Consumer Reports as a great option for longer-term, more accurate testing, the Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit AT 100 is very easy to use. Once opened, the device is exposed to the air you want to test for between 3 months and a full year. It is then returned to Accustar's lab using a prepaid shipping label, and all you have to do is wait a few weeks for the very important results to arrive.

Take the guesswork out of identifying harmful mold and mycotoxins.

If you're concerned that a substance in your home may be mold but aren't ready to hire a professional inspector, this highly rated DIY Mold Test Kit may be the best solution. The product contains tape lift samples for surface testing as well as an inspection booklet so that at-home consumers know where and what to look for. The samples are shipped to a lab and once they are analyzed, the consumer receives an email with the findings. Lab fees are included in the buying price in every state except Texas, where an additional $24 fee is applied.

Bitten by a tick? Determine the tick's lyme disease status without a hospital or vet visit.

What do hikers, pet owners, hunters, and gardeners all have in common? A shared enemy: the deer tick. Finding one of those tiny bloodsuckers after a day outdoors can be scary. This kit allows for DNA-based screening to see if the culprit is a carrier of the disease Lyme borreliosis. Testing is provided by the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory at East Stroudsburg University, with 99.9 percent accurate results delivered within three days of the lab receiving your samples.

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