The house that I grew up in was a pre-civil war era house that was built in the mid-eighteen hundreds. It was probably filled with health hazards. It’s amazing how many things we came in contact with when we were children that are considered dangerous to our health now.
I remember asbestos that was flaking off in the toaster. It was also in the pad that my grandmother rested the iron on. We used Mercurochrome every time we got cut, also iodine, and both are considered hazardous materials today.
We never wore a helmet when we rode our bikes and the paint on the walls and the windowsills of the old house were covered in lead paint. All of the pipes that brought drinking water to our house were made of lead, as well as was the water heater.
The lead paints on the windowsills were all flaking off, but I don’t remember having any desire to eat any of it and get lead poisoning. I also remember playing with old lead window weights, and some of the lead coming off on my hands. Usually I would then eat a sandwich or a piece of fruit without washing my hands.
But somehow I survived all of the chemical hazards around me when I was growing up. But if you like antiques, you may still be exposing yourself to the same lead hazards that I experienced when I was little. According to Medical News Today:
” The problem of toxic lead in used consumer products is extremely widespread and present at levels that are far beyond safe limits, researchers conclude in a new study. Research reported recently by the Associated Press found that lead and cadmium were present in cartoon character drinking glasses.”
Other consumers items such as drinking utensils, plates, silverware, and old toys may have unacceptable levels of lead in them. These items may have lead levels as much as 700 times higher than what is now acceptable by federal standards.
The researchers purchased items in second-hand stores, junk shops, flea markets, and antique shops. It was possible to find a number of items containing lead in all the places that they shopped.
In this era of conservation and re-using resources, used construction materials have been used when building new or remodeling old houses. These may be environmentally responsible and economical, but many contain high levels of lead and cadmium and should not be allowed near children.
Lead poisoning can cause brain damage in children and high blood pressure in adults who are exposed to it. So it’s probably wise not to eat out of or drink from any old eating utensils or painted pottery if you have doubts whether or not they have high levels of lead.