How much Lead is “too much” Lead?
The current amount of Lead that is considered toxic (and illegal) in an item “intended for use by children” is anything over 90 ppm Lead in the paint, glaze or coating of an item, and anything over 100 ppm Lead in the substrate. Currently in the U.S., items not expressly manufactured and sold as “intended for use by children” (including dishware, and keys) are generally completely unregulated for total Lead content (as detectable with an XRF instrument)!
Why do modern keys have so much Lead?
Keys specifically are generally made from Leaded brass, as the popular metal alloy has many “desirable” industrial properties: the metal itself is inexpensive, and quite easy/quick to machine, helping to make the cutting of keys a rapid and cheap process, and is both “self-lubricating” (useful in this application by supposedly reducing the tendency of locks to jam), and a very soft metal alloy, which allegedly helps reduce wear on the internal mating surfaces of the lock. However, given what we know today about Lead’s extreme neurotoxicity, the practice of making any consumer goods from Leaded brass should regarded as simply no longer acceptable. [Moreover, I would strongly advise not bringing children anywhere near the vicinity of any key-cutting area of any store — as the Lead dust levels on the floors and other horizontal surfaces are likely be dangerously high!]
Fortunately, keys can easily and economically be made from a variety of other – Lead-free – alloys, and Lead-free keys are available for purchase at many hardware stores (the most popular ones are made of strong aluminum alloys, and while aluminum is much lighter, and stiffer – thus, less prone to being easily bent – they are a bit more brittle than brass keys – and thus less resistant to very rough treatment; they would be more likely to break off in the lock if repeatedly subjected to excessive force [#ExperienceSpeaking]). If not stocked at your local hardware store, most key blanks & keys are available for order in a variety of non-leaded alloys.
Advice / takeaway:
Don’t let children (especially babies – or any other child who puts things in their mouth) play with ordinary “real” house keys. Buy them a child-safe toy set instead (the nicest ones I’ve seen are non-toxic, indestructible stainless steel, and beautifully-designed with no sharp edges — to be really baby-safe. Here’s an Amazon affiliate link to those – made by Kleynimals (a corporate sponsor of my advocacy work!): https://amzn.to/2TcVJwl
Click to read: Why “Kleynimals” is a good alternative choice for kids!
Continue reading below the image…
Additional related reading:
- To see more keys I have tested (with their Lead readings), click here.
- To see more Leaded brass items I have tested, click here.
- To see more safe choices from Kleynimals that I have tested, click here.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts!