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Bathtub Questions

I’m pretty attached to our old tub. I much prefer a bath to a shower. I find it much more relaxing — therapeutic even. When we were shopping for a house, a big tub was on our short list of desired features. I’m 6′ 4″ and I find I’m not comfortable in many tubs. Our big old clawfoot tub fits me perfectly.

However, none of us have used the tub since Sunday, when my home test indicated there might be a high level of lead in there.

I’ve been trying to find information about the lead in our bathtub using my time-tested internet search skills. Unfortunately there’s precious little good information out there. I keep running into one story from 1995 that appeared on Good Morning America. This single story is cited by a host of bathtub reglazing businesses and some lawyers.

That runs up a red flag in my mind. If there’s something to this, there should be more information out there. In particular I’d expect to see citations of medical studies. But the only real scientific article I’ve found is a tale of woe regarding some wine that was made in a bathtub.

My main question, of course, is whether this is a threat to our safety or not. I know that Persephone was prone to drinking the bath water. But does lead really leach out into bath water?

Dr. Rodgers says the way to be sure is to “test water going into tub and water in tub after a bath.” If the post-test reveals a higher lead level than the pre-test, then the tub is leaching lead into the bath water. But I’m not sure what the best way to test for lead in water is. LeadCheck Aqua seems to detect lead in water only at the EPA limit of 15 parts per billion.

Dr. Rodgers also says, “Most kids get lead from ingesting dust soil or chips, stomach contains strong acid to digest the lead. The skin is a very impermeable membrane to bath water entering the blood stream.”

Even though I’m not convinced this is a serious risk, I am looking into the cost of having the tub re-glazed. I’ve got a query in to Southern Refinishing. Just waiting to hear back.

Published inOur House


  1. Lee Lee

    I’d like to have that done on our tub as well (they don’t make em like they used to). It’s interesting that the best you can find is that story that was on GMA. You’d think there would be more information on lead testing. Have you thought about contacting local labs? You can possibly have them test both in and out water. You could take the samples yourself. It’s worth a shot.

  2. I believe that’s the company that redid my old bathtub in my pre-marriage, pre-Katrina little cottage. They did a great job and afterward, I wondered why I waited so long to do it!

    I don’t have a bathtub in my bathroom now. Value your tub! :~)

  3. David David

    I used Southern Refinishing, too, and I was very pleased with the results. They’ll do the tub at your house, but since you’re concerned with chemical exposure, it might be better to do it at their place.

  4. For more info on lead exposure, maybe try a scientific/medical search through Xavier’s library database? Medline, MedPub, OVID, whatever databases the university subscribes to?

  5. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    try contacting the prc about lead in old tubs.

    they might have more info , or maybe some good leads.

    not sure if you spoke of this yet but could it be lead in your plumbing leading to your tub?

  6. Update: Misty from Southern Refinishing got back to me. Here’s the scoop — “Yes old clawfoot tubs do have lead based paint on the outside of them. Yes glazing would help b/c all the old paint is sandblasted off on the outside and if it’s on the inside its stripped out. To have a CFT glazed inside and outside all in white is $675.00 and it would have to come to the shop. It takes about 3 weeks to complete. We offer pickup and delivery for 85.00 round trip or you can always bring it in yourself.”

    A quick check indicates that a brand new tub would cost at least twice as much. So I think I’m gonna do this.

  7. PJ PJ

    You don’t want to pickup and deliver that tub by yourself B. $85 is well spent. Those tubs are heavy to even scoot as I’m sure you know.

    Is that shower working okay downstairs?

  8. David David

    Yeah, $675 is a good deal on inside and outside glazing, too.

    New tubs are incredibly expensive as are new fixtures. I found some good, affordable fixtures on ebay if you’re interested.

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