Lead in worn Ceramic Glaze Confirmed
Porcelain Bathtubs found to  be possible lead hazard    
New Source of Lead Poisoning Identified!
(Reprinted from the June 1995 issue of the "Refinisher's News")

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Each day, children bathe in it, play in it and are washed carefully in
it. Yet, according to a special report on the April 19, 1995 edition of
Good Morning America, porcelain bathtubs are one of the America's
most unexpected sources of lead exposure for children. Lead health
danger for children by the Centers for Disease Control.

The nationally televised report cited a study of over 600 tubs. The
study found that approximately 64 percent of the tubs tested had
leachable lead on the surface. The tested tubs were of varying age
and came from a wide range of domestic and import companies.

Good Morning America's report focused on the Thomas family from
a small town in Massachusetts. In spite of their efforts to identify
and eliminate lead exposure in their home, their two children
continued to have very high blood lead levels, requiring continuing
medical treatments. The older child had a blood lead level of 47
micrograms per deciliter, while the second child (age 7 months)
showed a level greater than 20 micrograms per deciliter.

Aside from negligible lead in the household dust, the only source of
lead that could be identified in the children's environment at the time
was the lead-based paint in their home. Even though it was not
peeling, they spent over $15,000 to have it professionally removed.
Away from home during the abatement process (2 months), the
children's blood lead levels decreased to nearly normal levels (1 to 9
micrograms per deciliter). Within a week after moving back into the
now lead-free and lead safe home, both children again showed
significant elevated blood lead levels.

The family then purchased a home lead test kit called LeadCheck
Swabs to test their ceramic ware. When her dishes tested negative
for lead, Mrs. Thomas then used a LeadCheck Swab on the bathtub
- the only remaining item in the house not yet tested for lead. The
swab immediately turned pink, indicating the tub was leaching
dangerous levels of lead. Every time the children bathed in the tub
and played with their toys, they ingested lead simply by touching
the tub and putting their wet fingers and toys in their mouths. The
children ceased using the tub for their baths and within a few
months their blood lead levels returned to nearly 10 micrograms per

When she first tested the bathtub, Patricia Thomas immediately
called the LeadCheck Information Hotline to ask questions. The
company was surprised by this potential lead source, and sent its
top R&D specialist to investigate. Numerous follow-up tests
confirmed the initial finding - the bathtub was the problem

"When Mrs. Thomas called our information hotline, we couldn't
believe that bathtubs could leach lead," says Dr. Marcia Stone,
president of HybriVet Systems, Inc. and inventor of LeadCheck
Swabs. "Unfortunately, it's true, and thousands of children are at

Continued testing of this and other bathtubs has confirmed the
presence of leachable lead in porcelain bathroom fixtures. A baby
wipe rubbed on the bottom of a tub picked up over 1000 micrograms
of lead. Hands rubbed along the side of a LeadCheck positive tub
were shown to pick up significant amounts of lead. Bath water
allowed to sit in LeadCheck positive tubs leaches lead in amounts
exceeding 50 parts per billion. Washcloths soaked in bath water and
rubbed on the bottom of the tub concentrated significant amounts
of lead.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 57
million US homes have dangerously high lead levels. While bathtubs
are a newly identified source of lead, other sources include
deteriorating lead paint, water, plumbing, dust and ceramics, to
name a few. According to Stone, the best solution is for the public
to empower itself with information on the problem.

What is the solution to the lead problem? It has been confirmed that
refinishing LeadCheck positive tubs eliminates the leaching of lead
by encapsulating the tub. The implications for the Refinisher are
obvious. After spending over $15,000 on lead abatement, Patricia
Thomas found that she could have prevented the problem by simply
having the tub refinished for only a few hundred dollars. You need
to empower your customers by giving them the benefit of the
Thomas' experience. Carry a supply of LeadCheck Swabs and test
every porcelain tub and sink you encounter. If there is a possibility
of lead exposure, you can demonstrate it on the spot.

And what about you? Do you need to protect yourself from lead
exposure during the refinishing process? If you are following the
proper safety procedures you normally use (and we would be
disappointed to find that you aren't) to protect yourself from the
other hazards of refinishing, you are protected. You should avoid
breathing sanding dust or, better yet, wet sand to prevent dust in
the first place. You should always wear coveralls and latex or rubber
gloves during surface preparation and spraying. And finally, we
hope that your level of hand to mouth activity is not that of a
one-year old; but, if it is, please wash your hands before you stick
them in your mouth. And stop drinking the bath water!

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