What are the health hazards of lead paint on cast iron radiators used for heating?

Asked by ron
Champaign, IL

we have a home built in the 30's that uses a boiler system that provides heat for the house. the radiators are painted, most likely before 1972 and contain lead. Will toxic fumes be produced when heat is applied to the radiators?


Michael Holcomb

Answered by Michael Holcomb

Byron Center, MI

Alliance for Environmental Sustainability (Headquarters)

September 19, 2012


Thank you for your question concerning lead paint on the radiators in your home.  Cast iron radiators were used for steam and hot water heat. Neither produces heat high enough to vaporize lead oxide.

  • Lead oxide begins to vaporize at temperatures higher than 525-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • So vapors are not something that should concern you.

You should be concerned with lead paint chips and/or lead paint dust though. Keep the painted surfaces in good repair. If they start to oxidize, creating dust or chips have them repainted to protect the health of your family.

Removing lead-based paint from cast iron radiators is not a homeowner experience. While lead paint can be remove chemically in place it is a job for a professional.

In the interim keep the paint in good condition and sleep well.


For more information:

Read "I am concerned about lead. I know our house has lots of it." a Q&A answered by Cynthia Phakos.

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