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The Lead Issue

A Word About Lead

    Lead is a toxic poison that had been used as a building material for hundreds of years.  For the past three decades, through lead abatement programs, legislation and building material development, products containing lead have been encapsulated or replaced with lead free products.  Most people think lead exposure only comes from flaking lead-based paint or lead water pipes.  However, the threat of lead contamination from older porcelain fixtures, including bathtubs, is also quite real.  Studies show that over 65% of the bathtubs installed prior to 1985 may be leaching lead into bathwater.  Many of these fixtures are still being used today.  The Center for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency and other health professionals warn that repeated and prolonged exposure to higher concentrations of lead can be hazardous to the health of those exposed, especially children.

    For years bathtub manufacturers used glazes containing lead in the production of porcelain fixtures.  When proper temperatures are maintained during the firing process of porcelain, this lead is sealed inside the porcelain glaze.  This process, when done properly, produces a safe, smooth, glossy surface.  However, if the manufacturer did not maintain proper firing temperatures or if the porcelain glaze is damaged, lead may leach from the surface.  This also means that bathtubs with many chips, excessive or long-term wear, or damage caused by the improper use of drain cleaners may leach lead into bathwater and expose those who ingest it.

    Lead is a cumulative poison and once ingested never leaves the body, except through a special treatment process.  There are many symptoms of lead exposure with varying effects, depending on the amount of lead ingested and the age of the person contaminated.  The most serious effects are found in small children and pregnant women.  Symptoms of lead poisoning can be detected predominantly in children because young growing bodies will show more concentrated contamination. Symptoms of lead poisoning may include:

  • Delayed Motor Development
  • Memory Impairment
  • Hearing Problems
  • Colic
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Paralysis of the wrists and/or ankles

The threat to children is compounded when it is considered that the most frequent entry route of lead into the body is through ingestion.  Lead can leach into the bathwater and be ingested when children drink the bathwater or suck their fingers while in the bathtub.

 

Encapsulation; the safe, cost effective remedy

    Encapsulation is a permanent or semi-permanent covering of the source of lead. Professional refinishing of old, worn or damaged surfaces provides a smooth, glossy barrier that effectively protects against further lead exposure.  Drexel Co. Refinishing uses lead-free materials that encapsulate the surface, producing a non-toxic and completely safe bathing environment for children and adults alike.

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