Band leaders across the country are understandably upset about my findings of lead in trumpet mouthpieces.
The easy response for some is to not believe my findings and to try to discredit them (at least in their own minds) so that they feel that they do not need to alert their band members, nor take any proactive nor preventative action to protect their students (even action as simple as informing their band members’ parents about this potential concern, so the parents can make an informed choice for their own child.)
Below is a letter I wrote to the school district in response to one band leader who was challenging my findings this evening.
As always… my work centers around informing and educating parents so we are empowered to make safer choices for our children when safer choice are available to be made.
While no-one is asserting that any particular mouthpiece has contributed to the poisoning of any particular child (or any child at all for that matter):
- Leaded mouthpieces can be as high as 20,000 ppm lead or higher!
- The CPSC hazard level for lead in items intended for use by children is 90 ppm lead.
- The manufacturers of musical instrument mouthpieces may believe their products fall outside of the need for compliance with CPSC regulatory standards (I’ll be following up with the CPSC to learn more about that!) or that they are in compliance with regulatory standards because of the age of the children typically using their instrument or because they assert the plating does not deteriorate with normal use. As a result it appears that there is no federal oversight or interest in this concern.
- Silver plating on leaded mouthpieces can and does wear over time (especially with the heavy use and abuse that the cheaper school band instruments typically see).
- Lead-free trumpet mouthpieces ARE available.
Given these facts it makes sense to get a lead-free mouthpiece for your child if you can.
Note: I think this would be an amazing project for someone like Bill & Melinda Gates (and the Gates Foundation) to undertake! They could easily afford to replace all of the leaded mouthpieces in public schools throughout our country with unleaded ones and … not only do that… but use home-grown American / Pacific Northwest manufacturers (like the two above) to accomplish their goal!
Mother of Four Musicians (including two horn players)
“Unexpected Lead Expert”