We have recently (2 months ago) moved into a 100-year-old house. Last
week my 3-year-old was diagnosed for elevated lead levels in her blood.
I performed a lead-check test on our old, pitted and coarse, claw-tool
tub, and sure enough there is definitely lead present at the surface of
Question is: what kind of refinishing/reglazing options do I have have
which will safely encapsulate the lead, and give me a nice durable
Seems like there are several spray-on/brush-on products, but is there
another level of refinishing quality above that?
First, are you sure the lead you picked up is actually from the tub; or
could it be from the water that went into the tub?
In a home that old, it is likely that at some time, maybe even now, the
plumbing was such that it would have allowed lead to leach into the water.
Pipes, fittings and solder all have contained lead. Over many years lead
could have built up on the surface. Maybe just a very good cleaning is what
is called for.
I am assuming you have tested all the water very carefully, including
the water from that tub?
As for your question, the answer is yes. The better products are only
available with professional application, often in your home.
She drinks from the tub?? Sorry. It's just that there
must be more severe contaminant sources than the tub.
Second, would medical authorities expect elevated lead levels
to have occurred in only 7 weeks?? I don't know; I'm asking
a serious question.
What were the lead levels in the drinking water in the previous
residence? What about the new one?
100 years ago, lead service lines from curb to house were common;
many are still in use today. That's not necessarily bad, but the
danger would seem to outweigh the tub.
You can get the tub sprayed with epoxy-like finsihes which are
"fairly" durable if you take good care of them; thy're not as
tough as porcelain finish though. How about a brand new tub
with no lead?
The more likely vector would be touching the tub, then putting her hand
in her mouth. So far, with the quick tests I've done so far, the tub is
the only obvious source of lead. Water tests are pending, as are dust
The lab tech who called with results didn't know this, nor have I found
other information about the uptake time constant. The tech's suggested
retest time interval is 3-6 months, which suggests a longer time
constant, but then, I've learned to independently verify everything I'm
told by medical people. The child's lead levels at the old residence
were always below the concern threshold.
If it can be done safely, we'd like to keep the tub - it is rather
beautiful, and it would be hard to find an affordable replacement.
Not to mention lead paint.. almost certainly a problem in a 100 year old
house. I agree with the other guy who said look for other causes, and also
am surprised that the child would exhibit signs of elevated lead levels in
as little as two months from household causes.
Also, following Washington DC's national debacle about the lead in the
public water supply, many other municipalities seem to suddenly be noticing
(or stop concealing) the high lead levels found in many parts of their water
systems. Where did you live before? This could be a result of drinking water
from your former and/or current residence. Definitely test your tap water.
Lead in water can even be a problem even if you drink Evain most of the
time, if you cook with the tap water (e.g. rice, pasta, soup, anything that
may absorb or use tap water).
You don't need a whole house filter, all you need to do is filter
drinking water and the water that is used to prepare foods. Simple
systems are available with a 2-3 quart container that holds a filter
for about $25. Extra filters are about $5 a piece and last the
average 3-4 person household 2-3months.
I still wonder, what reason you have to ever test your child for lead?
Among other criteria, anyone who lives in a house that might have lead
paint should have young children tested. Lead paint was used on most
houses, inside and out, until the 1950s, and it wasn't prohibited
until the 1970s.
See <http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?ss &doc_id155&nbr#81#s23>
On Tue, 12 Oct 2004 03:32:43 GMT, "George E. Cawthon"
It is a fact that many substances are readily absorbed through the
A whole house filter also prolongs the life of the water heater as
well as the life of all the rubber that water comes into contact with
(inside the toilet, rubber washers in faucets, etc.)
Now I don't know how lead is absorbed or if it is even a problem in
the original poster's water supply, but I do know that a whole house
filter will affect far more than just his wallet. I've been
considering installing one in our home because I just don't trust the
municipal water (and besides, it tastes bad in the summer due to algae
bloom in the local lakes the water is drawn from!:~)
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
You don't need a whole house filter as previously noted.. but I'd recommend
something more convenient than a brita for cooking. Our fridge has a
built-in filter, as do most fridges with TTD ice, which is fine for my
personal cooking use. It can take a long time to fill a big pot for pasta,
though. If you have an older fridge with an automatic icemaker or water
dispenser, get an inline filter from HD for about 25 bucks that you can
install on the copper icemaker feed with very little effort.
In the $200 price range you can get an under-counter reverse-osmosis system
that gives better flow (because it has a holding tank) and also provides the
best filtration generally available for a consumer device. The inline
charcoal filters are pretty good, but might choke on very high lead levels.
In any event you should get your water tested and find out how big a problem
you have. Kits are available at HD type places, or your water company may do
one for free. If it's over 150 ppb, then a regular filter may not be enough.
I would test before & after filter installation, and periodically thereafter
if your lead levels were very high.
The bathtub would be low on my list of suspects, but I certainly am not
an expert. What led to the diagnosis? Child symptomatic? The most
common way for small children to be exposed to lead poisoning is chewing
on stuff painted with lead paint - windowsill, old crib with lead paint,
home-made toy, breathing dust after lead paint has been sanded. Sanding
lead paint can permeate the home with dust - bedding, carpet, drapes,
clothing, etc. Also need, perhaps, to consider other locales, such as
friends homes or daycare. Does your health department get involved?
I think you are jumping to conclusions. Some groups of people are
subject to pica (eating dirt), is your child one? The reason I ask,
is that it is extremely unlike that the child got leaded by having
baths. Here are the possibilities that you need to consider for the
source of the lead in decreasing order of likelyhood: 1. previously
dwelling, 2. paint chips that the child eats, 3. cookware, especially
crockery, 4. household plumbing, 5. domestic water source (well,
municipal, private). You should immediately monitor the food and
everything that the child put in his/her mouth and provide a good
driking source such as a britta or other filter water.
Lastly, why would you test your child for lead? and was this done at
a regular doctors office? I agree with another responder that it is
highly unlikely that the child has had a singificant increase in lead
levels in two months. You need to question the doctors and get test
done by a different lab.
As for the tub, any good paint will encapsulate the lead. You could
paint it with a high quality water based enamel, an oil based enamel
or whatever but it might not last for more than an year before
starting to flake off. You need a good two part epoxy paint for it to
last a long time.
I was under the impression that inhaled lead (paint dust from sanding) is
absorbed at about 90% efficiency whereas ingested lead is WAY less effective.
A few weeks to get elevated levels seems pretty quick. I'd look for other
sources of contamination & I'd get the blood tests redone.
Seems like the bath tub (paint's on the outside? porcelein on the inside?)
would not be the source.......
keep us posted
No, not actually. The tub is one of several things which we are
looking at, and, to-date, the ONLY one with obvious lead present and
accessible. Therefore, I will address it while I pursue, in parallel,
Having baths wouldn't be the problem. But touching the bathrub, and
then putting hands in mouth would be. In any case, even if the tub
isn't the primary source of lead, it is A tested source of lead, so
I'm fixing it.
Yes, we are doing all these things, too. 3,4 are probably not the
problem. Test for 5 is pending. 1 is less likely, since previous
tests while living at the old residence were negative. 2 is harder to
It is actually a very standard test done by the doctor, and is
mandated by law in some localities, especially where the housing stock
Again, I'm definitely not being confrontational, but what do you base
this assertion on? Do you know what the uptake or elimination time is
for lead? I infer that it is near 3 months, based on the recommended
retesting interval for affected children. So, there will likely be an
observable effect after 2 months, and in fact, the levels will
possibly go up before they go down again, even if all lead sources are
removed now. In any case, retests are scheduled, as are tests of the
On 13 Oct 2004 08:30:02 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Jo User) scribbled
this interesting note:
You can get a 2-part epoxy paint kit at Home Depot for tubs and sinks.
If you are handy with a small sander and can use some Bondo and have a
large enough compressor and most any kind of paint sprayer you can do
the job yourself (hint: remember to mask off everything you don't want
overspray on in the room and you might want to make other sleeping
quarters available for a day or two until the worst of the fumes
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
You might want to have your water checked as well. The lead on the tub
surface could be contributed to by lead in the water.
My wife and I just moved into a 100 year old house also, and there are
lots of other places where lead can be lurking. Paint is the most
common one. Old mini-blinds can deteriorate in uv light and release
lead dust. Soil can be contaminated from deteriorating house paint, or
from old gas.
So, you might want to have a lead risk assessment done. (You'll find
out all the problem areas and what can be done about it)
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