Campus News

Lead paint could be lurking on your latest thrift-store find

Vintage furniture and salvaged architectural details can add character to any decor. However, thrift-store treasures might be adding more than whimsy to Georgia homes-they could be carrying unsafe levels of lead.

Lead paint was used in houses and on household items in the U.S. until 1978. The 1920s farmhouse door that gets turned into a coffee table or the worn porch corbels that get incorporated into a kitchen island were probably treated with lead paint.

Lead exposure can cause serious developmental delays and brain abnormalities in children and can affect cognitive abilities in adults as well. Lead’s sweet taste often lures children into putting lead-painted surfaces into their mouths.

“Using vintage and antique furniture in our homes is a great way to avoid buying new pieces, and it keeps furniture out of our landfills,” said Pamela Turner, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and UGA Cooperative Extension housing and environment specialist. “Those are both great things for the environment, but we need to be mindful about what we’re bringing into our homes and minimize or eliminate any contact that our families have with lead.”