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Safety of bathing in a galvanized steel tub

Q. I would not think there would be, but do you think there is any danger in giving a baby a bath in a galvanized steel tub (zinc coated)? I am concerned about the potentials for plastics to leach nasty chemicals into liquids and probably worry overmuch, but thought a galvanized wash tub might be a nice solution to bathing baby . . thanks for your response!

Hope Urban
- Los Angeles, California

A. Many hot dip galvanizers use "Prime Western" zinc which is an alloy containing 1.4% lead (typically). Lead is a cumulative poison for the human body. The use of Prime Western Zinc is declining in reference to "Special High Grade" (a grade to which no lead is added). In the corrosion process, more lead will remain in the deposit, since zinc is more noble than lead (hot dip galvanizing is a sacrificial coating). Because of lead's relative nobility, not much lead will dissolve into the water. There are test kits available to "spot test' for the presence of lead.

Tom Rochester
CTO - Jackson, Michigan, USA
Plating Systems & Technologies, Inc.
supporting advertiser
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A. Till recently all water pipes were galvanized steel, baby talc powder contains zinc oxide [affil links] .

Cair Shishani
Khair Shishani
aircraft maintenance - Al Ain, UAE

thumbs up sign This had to come from California!
1/ Until the 1960s practically all babies were bathed in a zinc tub. Most of us old ones seem to have survived although I still remember that ours was hung up outside and collected a good deposit of grit that was not comfortable.
2/ Zinc is essential to life. A while back there was a move to 'improve' drinking water by reducing the zinc content....until it was pointed out that this could kill people unless supplied with zinc supplements.
3/ Neither zinc nor lead are likely to be absorbed through the skin.
4/ Discourage the baby from drinking the bath water.
5/ Even environmentally aware chemists use plastic tubs.
6/ ... and most important remember
More people are killed by worry than by those things they worry about.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

A. The same could be said for the plastic tub. I don't think there is a real concern there as long as the product is intended for use as a tub?
Not surprising that folk as far away as the UK have heard of our great State's reputation :-0

Bill Grayson
metal finishing - San Jose, California

Lead in copper?

Q. First, Thanks for the VERY informative forum and for your time and knowledge sharing!

we recently moved to a renovated home with our newborn baby, now 5 months. The clean water plumbing (cooking and baths) and the big nice sink we use for baby's bath every night are copper. Should I be concerned about lead?

Thanks a lot!


Liz Gonzalez
a mom :) - Silver Springs, Maryland
November 26, 2017

Lead Test Swabs

on eBay or


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A. Hi Liz. I'm sure it's hard for a new mom to do what she considers the right amount of worrying about the right things.

The sink is no problem at all, but you might inquire of the city health department whether they do free testing of water samples. Many very old homes had some lead piping, and most homes built until a few years ago had copper water piping soldered with tin-lead solder. While it is unusual for the lead to be active enough to leach into the water, we've all heard about Flint, Michigan. So you do want confidence that nothing has happened that renders your home at higher risk. If your home is really old and has any flaking paint, lead in the paint chips is probably a bigger concern when the baby grows to be a toddler.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

thumbs up sign Thanks so much to all of you for your prompt answers. Love this site and your commitment to keep us informed and learning.

Liz Gonzalez [returning]
- Silver Spring, Maryland

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