Is lead in reclaimed wood a concern?
May 30, 2012 12:05 PM Subscribe
Husband bought large paintings made with reclaimed barn wood. I swabbed them and they tested positive for lead. We have a new-ish baby. How big of a deal is this?
posted by allisonrae to health & fitness (19 answers total)
I'll start by saying that the last couple years I got really caught up following stories about flame retardants, BPA, etc. Pregnancy really exacerbated it. This year I've been actively working at chilling out and realizing that some things are just out of my control. I feel that I've been somewhat successful, and being too busy with a baby to spend time online reading one alarmist story after another has really helped. I'm sure I was driving my husband crazy and I'm happier for it too.
That said, I did give in to a suspicion the other day. I used a lead test swab to check the painting in the living room that's made of reclaimed barn wood. About 10% of the piece contains old wood strips with varying degrees of old white paint. It is degraded paint, to the degree that running a fingernail over it would scrape some off, but it is not actively flaking off on its own. I got conclusive red positives. And now I can't stop thinking about it.
When I brought up the possibility of lead content in these paintings a couple months ago, my husband got very upset and asked rhetorically if I had ever played near a barn as a kid. We both grew up with plenty of time in rural areas, so of course I had. I also think about how much less cautious everyone was when we were kids in the 70s/80s – the whole "well, we turned out fine!" thing. We also live in an old (1906) house. But my instinct is that having a known source of lead paint in the living room, next to the kitchen bar, in a house filled with kids, is a Really Bad Thing.
Can anyone help me separate the alarmism from the reality? As long as we keep the kids away from the paintings will it be fine? Or do we need to do something about this, like yesterday? Thanks!