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Unread 01-06-2020, 06:58 PM   #1
TurboSAAB
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Concern of Lead in Ceramic Tiles

Hi folks,

I'll make this as brief as possible...

I'm aware that ceramic tiles, even those produced after 1978, may contain lead in the glazing.

I have a den on a slab that has 12" white ceramic tiles, made in Italy...installed prior to my ownership, probably in the late 1980s.

I plan to have carpet installed on top of the ceramic tiles, as I have small children and want a cushy floor for their "play room". I figured I'd avoid the big mess of a demolition, especially the potential lead kick up, and each installer I've spoken to said they install wall to wall carpet over tile regularly.

If I'm concerned about lead, is this the best way to go? Leave it in place and cover with carpet? I assume the installer will scuff up the tile in the spots where he will glue down the tack strips. Is that a concern? Also, the tile is chipped in a few spots...and I'm also wondering how much abrasion will occur below the carpet pad as debris falls through the carpet over time.

Is XRF testing really accurate with tiles? I have a stack of surplus in the garage, I could also smash one and use a LeadCheck swab on it.

The tiles are white, and not high gloss. I though that meant a low chance of lead...but then this article shows white tiles and claims they tested positive for a lot of lead:
https://tamararubin.com/2018/06/conc...-90-is-unsafe/


What do you think? Worrying too much? Lead is a real concern with developing children in the home.

Thanks!!
Alex
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Unread 01-06-2020, 07:15 PM   #2
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The XRF is the way to go it you have access to someone testing that for you. It’ll be more accurate than any wipe samples from crushing tiles.

While it might be unusual, your City’s Health Department might use their $30k XRF on a sample if you brought it to them with your concerns. Then again, it’s government....not always the easiest to work with.

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Unread 01-06-2020, 10:08 PM   #3
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Lead in a glaze usually takes an acidic solution to release it...something that's not normally found regularly on a floor. From way back (and maybe not so long ago), things like pewter or glazed cups, if used for something like orange juice or wine, could release some of the lead in the glaze or material and, over time, be a problem.
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Unread 01-06-2020, 11:11 PM   #4
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There should be no need to scuff up the tiles to install tackstrip. There is more than one way to glue tackstrip to tile that doesn't require abrasion. The tiles just need to be clean and free of contaminates. Hot glue( not the stuff you find at a hobby store), chemrex( I don't think that is the spelling), it goes by a different name now but I can't think of what it is off the top of my head, I will look it up need be. As for what is going to get through your carpet and pad, if you vacuum regularly, once a week is normally sufficient, you should have very little actually making it to the carpet. I don't know if sealing the tile prior to the carpet but after you put the tackstrip down would help with what jadnashua was referring to.
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Unread 01-07-2020, 06:27 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies guys. The installer will likely be using liquid nails for the tack strips. I'll ask if that will work without scuffing the tiles.

My remaining concern was more with sand and grit etc making their way below the carpet and slowly grinding the glaze as people walk, etc, thus releasing lead. Ever remove a 20 year old carpet, in a supposedly clean house? Stuff sometimes gets down below it. Perhaps I'm overthinking things. Having small kids will do that to you! But from what I read, demolition of tile or damage to glazing can release lead. I assume removal in a 20x15 room, using lead safe precautions would be quite expensive?

Thanks for the help!
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Unread 01-07-2020, 06:34 AM   #6
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I doubt anyone will be glueing the tack strip. More likely they will be drilling and nailing the same as if it were terrazzo. After the drilling and dust is done and gone I couldn't imagine carpet pad "scuffing" up any lead even if there was any present in the baked on tile surface.
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Unread 01-07-2020, 06:40 AM   #7
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Overthinking things? Yes I believe you are. I have kids and that wouldn't concern me what you have. You even mention your concerns around a government official and before you know it you will have a dozen or more bureaucrats dictating your soon to be very expensive endeavor.
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Unread 01-07-2020, 08:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrymlr1
. I doubt anyone will be glueing the tack strip. More likely they will be drilling and nailing
I have to say if the tile was down good I would glue it myself. I would NOT use liquid nails, not that it won't work, just never used it since there are products specifically made for glueing down strip.
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Unread 01-07-2020, 08:21 AM   #9
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If you are that concerned about your kid's health, you might want to reconsider your plan of installing carpet. Between the chemicals used in the production of the carpet outgassing after it is installed and all of the nasty stuff that lives in carpet (unless you clean it regularly with more chemicals) I don't think it is preferable to an easy to clean tile floor.

If you need some padding, get some of those interlocking rubber mats or some area rugs that can be easily removed for cleaning or replacement.
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Unread 01-07-2020, 08:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
If you are that concerned about your kid's health, you might want to reconsider your plan of installing carpet. Between the chemicals used in the production of the carpet outgassing after it is installed and all of the nasty stuff that lives in carpet (unless you clean it regularly with more chemicals) I don't think it is preferable to an easy to clean tile floor.

If you need some padding, get some of those interlocking rubber mats or some area rugs that can be easily removed for cleaning or replacement.
Excellent points, RichVT...

That is why I'm likely going with Earthweave Carpet. 100% wool, and unlike other wool carpets, it has 0 dyes, 0 pesticides, 0 moth proofing, natural rubber glues are used and it has a natural jute backing. The pad would be wool from the same company. This is quite a bit more expensive than conventional carpet, but for the reasons you mentioned, I can't in good faith put that toxic conventional carpet in the kids playing room.

http://www.earthweave.com/

Check it out...pretty cool...I think they are unique in their 100% chemical free construction.

What still exists, of course, is the buildup of dirt and who knows what else, in the carpet over time as you pointed out...

I do currently have those interlocking rubber mats around maybe 3/4 of the room (low emission ones from Norway I believe). It just looks horrible, and there are still plenty of spots for them to smash their heads open when roughhousing. The room is also our family room/den, so we'd like it to look nice...and right now the white tile on the concrete slab is so cold...both visually and literally. We want to make the room more inviting. I'd like to be able to play some knee hockey too
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Unread 01-07-2020, 09:21 AM   #11
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I had a claim like this years ago. Short version is after 3 attempts it could not be abated. Further investigation found it naturally occurring in the soil and was being tracked in.

Only aware of a few valid claims on exposure. They occurred when the glaze was ground off the tile in preparation of new.
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Unread 01-07-2020, 09:35 AM   #12
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I saw recently that 'remediating' old tile due to lead is a thing. In my opinion, it's a dumb thing. The lead in old tile glazes is tied up in a glassy matrix of the glaze. It was a small (5% or less) addition to smooth out the glazes so the total amount of lead in a 1/64" glaze layer is tiny. Lead is an ingestion hazard meaning that you have to eat or drink it in fairly high concentrations before it can damage the development of the brain. While eating paint chips is evidently a thing, I've never heard of anyone eating tile chips.

In your specific case, tiles designed in the 80's for flooring didn't typically contain lead. Lead did make the glaze smoother but it also made it softer so it wasn't typically put into floor tile glazes. It's much more common in wall tiles from the 70's and before. In the 70's lead became difficult to use in industrial processes due to environmental regulations on the waste streams from factories. Most factories switched to alternative formulations during that decade. While I can't say it's impossible, I will say it's highly unlikely that your floor glaze contains lead. Even if it does, the likelihood of your children being exposed to any lead simply because the tile is there under a carpet is very, very, very small.
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Unread 01-07-2020, 07:21 PM   #13
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I both agree and disagree with our friend Dan. I agree that the tile remediation thing is dumb. I agree that the chances of the tile containing lead is pretty low. I agree that even if the tile has lead that it’s extremely difficult and unlikely you could be exposed. And I agree that it’s an ingestion hazard.

But I’ll disagree on the paint chips. Yeah, kids occasionally eat paint chips in deteriorated homes with chipped paint. But it’s the DUST that is the primary hazard and concern. Ingesting lead dust after touching stuff is the cause of the vast majority of lead poisoning in kids. And I disagree that it’s got to be ingested in large amounts to be a problem. With little kids, particularly in kids whose nutrition is substandard, the body is fooled into thinking that lead is a nutrient. It’s absorbed into their bones and all sorts of other places where it doesn’t easily come back out. And I’ll disagree that 5% lead in tiles is a relatively small amount. While I don’t make the rules, nor do I agree with them all, the alarms start going off at a small fraction of that amount.

If you can take a sample and have it tested with an XRF machine, you will know in less than a minute if you even have lead.

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Unread 01-08-2020, 10:03 AM   #14
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Had a project about 10 years ago, a sports stadium, that all the concession areas used an imported glazed wall tile containing lead. Awareness came about when some metal stud work already tiled had to get torn out. Three months before opening they had to abate all the wall tile to comply with state code. I have never been called back by that client, LOL.
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Unread 01-08-2020, 11:22 PM   #15
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Abrading the glaze could happen, producing power. Acids could leach out some of the lead, but both of those situations are low probability situations. Encapsulating it prior to installing the carpeting should reduce the risk. Now, what product to use to do that, I'm not sure. Should you decide to remove it, that would expose areas to lots of the freed up lead, and that assumes your tile's glaze actually has any lead in it.

If I was worried about it, I'd test it, then you'd know for sure if there's any possibility, then, take precautions to limit any exposure. You may very well find there is none.

If the house is old, it's possible that one or more of the earliest layers of paint contained lead. That's much more likely to have loose, powdered or chip paint material that someone could ingest.
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