Background - Porcelain enameled bathroom fixtures such as bathtubs and sinks have been identified as a source of lead exposure to young children. In a study involving over 1400 bathtubs, approximately 62% of the tubs tested positive for leachable lead with lead check swabs (77% of the cast iron bathtubs and 25% of the steel tubs were positive. 100% of the clawfoot bathtubs we tested had extremely high levels of lead leaching from the surface.) Simply touching or wiping the side of these leaded fixtures is enough to transfer a residue of lead from the surface to the hand. This is of particular concern for young children, because of high-level of hand to mouth activity. In some cases, this source of lead could represent a significant lead exposure to very young children.
For more than 100 years, lead has been added to porcelain enameling materials and both new and old fixtures may leach the lead. However, older bathtubs that have perpetually been cleaned with abrasive cleansers leach the highest amounts of lead.
Abrasion can break the surface allowing lead to leak out, but some tubs leach lead even though their surface may look fine. These are tubs where proper temperature was not maintained during firing, preventing the coating from forming an impenetrable barrier. On these tubs, the surface will leach lead during normal use.
What are the effects of lead? - The effects of lead exposure vary, depending on the amount of lead ingested and the age of the person contaminated. The most profound and serious effects are seen in small children and pregnant women. These symptoms include:
Are you and your family at risk? - Educating yourself and your family is the first step. Being aware of the symptoms of lead poisoning and the medical testing necessary, will ensure your family's health and safety. Our technicians can test the fixtures in your home and give you instant results. Included with the test is our free brochure on tips for reducing exposure to lead in your home.
The Safe, Cost-Effective Solution - Encapsulation is essentially the permanent or semi-permanent covering of the source of lead. Having your bathtub professionally refinished or re-glazed will safely and effectively encapsulate the old porcelain and leave you with a beautiful, glossy finish. For more information regarding this process, please refer to our bathtub refinishing section.
Clawfoot Tub Restored Including Gold Feet