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Lead in Antique Furniture

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

We all love a good op shop bargain, but have you considered what your actually buying? Many second-hand and antique items produced prior to the 1970's contain high levels of potentially harmful heavy metal contaminants.

Op shops are full of hidden gems, however you may want to take care when purchasing certain items. Antique furniture such as chairs, frames, dressers, mirrors, cabinets, and shelves could possibly have harmful levels of lead.

Upcycling furniture is a fantastic way to limit your environmental impact, save money and aligns with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle initiative. The 3 R approach encourages people to limit the amount of single use waste that goes into landfills, reuse household items and recycle all appropriate materials.

Not only is it great for the environment, but upcycling furniture also adds individuality and character to your home décor. Before upcycling painted antique furniture, Healthy Homes and Gardens recommends testing the lead content in the paint. Prior to research on the potential dangers of lead exposure, many Australian homes and furniture were decorated with paint containing high levels of lead.

Our Portable XRFs can also test furniture such as metal beds frames, mirrors, photo frames and ornaments for traces of lead and cadmium.

For more information on the introduction to Australian National legislation follow this link to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website:

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