Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

August, 2002

Paints for Safety and Health

Q. What primers and paints can be safely used on cribs?

A. Because of legal liability issues I cannot recommend any paints for painting cribs, but in general I can tell you two paint ingredients that are not safe: chromates and lead compounds are generally considered to be unsafe. Fortunately, most of the paints we purchase in a hardware store do not contain either chemical.

In the past (generally prior to the 1980s) colored paints based on reds, yellows and oranges contained lead-chromate pigments and they were not "safe" when ingested by infants. Many of the articles that you might have read in newspapers about lead poisoning of infants (especially on the East Coast) have been on account of these "old" paints. Also in the past, again prior to the 1980s, lead pigments were used in primers and some white topcoats, but for the vast majority, if not for all of the paints sold today these have also been eliminated.

For a definitive answer to your question I suggest that you go to the Internet and send an email to the webmaster at the leading paint manufacturers of consumer paints. You might try Sherwin-Williams, Kelly Moore, Spraylat and others who are represented in your local area.

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