Recently, I acquired an old cast iron tub. I didn’t want it to soak in. I wanted it for an outdoor planter. It was rusty and dirty. As I started researching how to clean it up and preserve it, I found multiple articles regarding the lead dangers of old cast iron tubs. No, not this again! Growing up, we used an old cast iron tub to water our horses.
The #1 source of lead exposure is lead-based paint.
Bathtubs are the second most common culprit.
The lead comes from cast iron or steel tubs coated with a porcelain glaze. Porcelain glaze? Well that sounds familiar, like porcelain dishes or cups. As the glaze wears down from age and use, the lead in the glaze can leach into bath water. Young children who drink bath water or put their wet hands or toys in their mouths during bath time are at greatest risk.
The use of porcelain and ceramic glazes containing lead is not regulated, although many American companies say they voluntarily stopped using them since 1995. There is no safe level of lead exposure in children. Even a small amount can cause damage that lasts a lifetime. Many children exposed to lead will not show any obvious symptoms. That’s why some health experts recommend that all children be tested.
Take showers. The lead doesn’t get absorbed through the skin, only through ingestion.
Test your tub and your sinks too. Lots of new parents bath their babies in a porcelain sink. Home test kits are available in the paint section of most home centers or online.
Visit the EPA and the CDC websites to learn more.