Antique sinks can be a beautiful addition to your kitchen or bathroom but it is important to be aware that many antique sinks and fixtures for your bathroom contain lead traces which could be harmful to you and your family.
Parts of the Sink That Could Contain Lead
Before the harmful effects of lead were known, sinks used to be painted with ceramic paint and other lead based paints. People became exposed to lead poisoning as the paint began to wear down. Pipes with metal fittings containing lead were also commonly attached to many antique sinks and are also found in more modern sinks. In particular antique sinks made of brass contain very high concentrations of lead. The faucet of the sink may also contain traces of lead if you purchased it prior to 1997. Make sure that your faucet is certified by checking for markings that can be found on the aerator. The aerator is the place where the water comes out of the faucet. Markings can also be found on the back of the spout, or the faucet's deck plate. As of the spring of 2010, legislation was passed to prevent the use of lead in such fixtures that contain harmful lead contaminants. Contractors and other stores that sell antique sinks and fixtures are required to be more aware of lead contaminants in their products to avoid legal punishment.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Standards
As of the Spring of 2010 EPA standards require that no sinks or fixtures for homes, schools, offices, or any place where children spend a lot of time can contain lead. If you are buying or selling an antique sink you must make sure there are no traces of lead contamination. Antique sinks that are painted with a lead or ceramic paint can also cause run off chemical problems. When water is washed down the drain the pollutants can potentially end up in the public water waste system. To avoid any confrontation with the EPA it is smart to abide by these new standards.
Ensure Your Sink Does Not Contain Lead
When you buy an antique sink or if you have one existing in your home, you can clean it yourself to remove any traces of lead and ensure that you are abiding by the EPA standards. To do this, simply thoroughly clean the entire sink to remove any residue. You will also need to replace the fittings with PolyVinylChloride (PVC) fittings. PVC fittings are an environmentally safe synthetic polymer and also require less crude oil to manufacture, so they are a great environmentally friendly alternative. Furthermore, it may also be a good idea to remove the paint currently on the sink and repaint it so that you can be 100 percent sure that it remains lead-free. Alternatively, when you purchase your antique sink you can ask the retailer if it has been certified as lead-free by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).