Is it unsafe to have a lead-painted cabinet in my room?

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I've tested this cabinet I found at a flea market for lead - definitely contains lead on the outside and inside. I've read that coating with a lead encapsulating coat is futile since the paint is chipping.

Since this cabinet it is chipping, I know that's a red flag. But does it pose a risk? It is in the room I both sleep and work in (so I spend a LOT of time next to it). But it is a "low-traffic" cabinet, I don't use or touch it much.

Thanks for your insight!

-Tom
q can i make my lead painted cabinet safe
q can i make my lead painted cabinet safe
  18 answers
  • Snapoutofit Snapoutofit on Jan 04, 2018
    It is NOT safe!!!  .."Because household paint before the 1970's often contained lead, it may still pose a problem. As lead paint ages, it can chip or crumble into dust. Exposure to lead paintdust or chips can cause serious health problems, especially to children and pregnant women."https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/lead/exposure/childhood/leadq.htm

  • Barbara Trenary Barbara Trenary on Jan 04, 2018
    Ingestion of chips or inhalation of dust (or fumes, which require >1800 degrees F to generate) would constitute a complete exposure pathway. Although the cabinet paint is in very poor condition, if it is not releasing particulate matter small enough to inhale (< 10 microns in diameter), then the receptor is not actually inhaling them and there is no exposure. This paint could be removed using chemical strippers if one desired, but not heat guns due to the aforementioned reason. Effects on children are generally due to ingestion of lead paint dust or chips from wear surfaces or deterioration. For that reason, I would not recommend this cabinet be kept around small children.

  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Jan 04, 2018
    As long as nobody chews on it (children and pets) and it doesn't flake you should be okay. Otherwise, I would sand it down and totally repaint it. Just to be safe.

    • Kkr Kkr on Jan 05, 2018
      No. Do not sand it down. As others have mentioned, the dust created is one of the 2 ways to ingest lead. Strip it.

  • Random Chance Random Chance on Jan 04, 2018
    You can just spray it with a clear coat of varnish to seal it if you want to keep the paint.

    Lead paint was especially dangerous to toddlers because they put everything in their mouths, and the lead acetate used in the paint tastes sweet, which is why they would eat the paint chips that flaked off.

  • Lindsey Lindsey on Jan 04, 2018
    YES! lead paint eats through the finish of many other paints, so strip that stuff and then paint over it if you are going to keep it for the long run.

  • Suellen Hintz Suellen Hintz on Jan 04, 2018
    I don't think it's a danger. However, decorative painters are using techniques to make chipping paint but I also ran across a posting that said to use Benjamin Moore Exterior dark base, with no tints added, to seal such things as old wood pieces to stop the chips from falling off. She had used it on an old door apparently. I don't know if light base works. I don't know if it would work for metal, or even if it works at all.

  • William William on Jan 04, 2018
    It is dangerous! You need to chemically strip it safely or encapsulate it. Any movement of air strips the lead off of it on a microscopic level. You can use several coats of shellac to encapsulate it. That is the only product that the EPA recommends since it is natural.

    • Tom Tom on Jan 05, 2018
      I read that any kind of encapsulation doesn‘t work for chipped surfaces? But thanks for your insight 🙏🏼

  • Itsmemic Itsmemic on Jan 04, 2018
    if this is a low traffic cabinet? Why not just be safe and dump it and go thrifting for a new one? Why would you want to take a chance like this? I mean..sitting next to it all the time? Using it? WHY bother? And last but not least? It's dirt ugly ! hahahahaha !!! Sorry.....had to add that one...:)

    • Tom Tom on Jan 05, 2018
      haha I love the way it looks personally, which is why I haven’t dumped it. With that said I am reluctantly in the market for something to replace it.

  • Itsmemic Itsmemic on Jan 05, 2018
    I can understand that! I have a lot of things only a mother could love :)( MY brother came to visit me ..he spent the entire weekend examining my "unusual" decor. Used to bother me...now? I embrace my uniqueness !

  • Dfm Dfm on Jan 05, 2018
    dip strip in a vat and then refinish. try some automotive paint and make it a statement piece.

  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Jan 05, 2018
    I meant sand it down some place safe (like a garage) and then repaint it. Any paint made after 1976 is lead-free. This is an item that can be easily taken outside of the house for sanding - and then brought back in - unlike window sills or walls that should have lead removed by a certified contractor.

  • Brenda Simpson Brenda Simpson on Jan 05, 2018
    please don't try sanding-there will be microscopic particles released unless you do it in a vaccum fume hood. (Not likely). It's a cool piece worth rendering safe!

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Jan 05, 2018
    Tom, I agree that the unit is nifty retro looking, but that the condition makes it look unsightly rather than attractive. However, many of the ideas suggested as to how to "fix it" require adequate ventilated space, protection, time, labour, and expense in purchasing correct materials. To have it "redone" would be an investment in your health.To give it away would be free, or very low cost.
    In the end, you will have to make the decision as to what is worth more.

  • Ginger Doege Metcalf Ginger Doege Metcalf on Jan 05, 2018
    Get rid of it! Call the solid waste disposal department in your town and arrange to dispose of it properly. Wrap it completely in very thick plastic with good quality tape to prevent any more exposure to you or anyone else. EPA has very strict regulations about disposal of lead.

  • MaureenM MaureenM on Jan 07, 2018
    Personally, ...
    I would only be listening to someone with a NACE degree... they are paint and coating specialists.

  • Bryan's Workshop Bryan's Workshop on Jan 07, 2018
    Hey Tom, I often work with old furniture and antiques and your awesome cabinet is a health hazard if that chipping paint contains lead. Lead paint is dangerous if it's eaten or inhaled. Your cabinet is chipping and this is dangerous for you. Some paint chips are dust sized so they stay suspended in the air. That stuff can get in open drinks or in food.

  • George Gavin George Gavin on Jan 07, 2018
    Keep it, just don't lick it! I would keep it right where it is. We didn't lose a generation or two because of lead paint. People freak out for the simplest reasons. I was raised in the lead paint era and I made it out alright. Only have two arms and two legs too. Use it.

  • Linda Sikut Linda Sikut on Feb 13, 2018
    Hi Tom,
    Some people have said get rid of it and a few have said to keep it. You've said that you love the way it looks. I'd like to offer a suggestion. Get a different one and repaint it to look like this one. Take pics of all sides and anything else you like. You can repaint another one which will remove the threat and still give you the look that you like. Where we live, we must call the Department of Public Works, if there is hazardous waste. That's what you have. I was glad to read that you're looking for another one - even though it's reluctantly, but it my opinion, you're better safe than sorry. It might not cause a serious problem, but what if it does? Many older people are suffering from various illnesses that may have been related to things they did or were exposed to when they were younger. I hope you find another one soon and am glad to read that you are willing to remove this one from your home. Wishing you the best.