June 12, 2021 – Saturday
In response to me sharing this ^^^ post about a singing bowl with Lead, K. asked the following question:
Question from K on Facebook
I hope you don’t mind me asking a very novice question. When metals are cast like this and then touched with human hands can the Lead actually leach out onto our hands and then eventually enter into our bodies?
K. it’s normally hand-to-mouth activity that’s a concern – frequent, repeated hand-to-mouth activity / interaction with a potentially high-Lead object (that might be held/touched frequently — or even used as a fidget — like the small bowl pictured here). Normal hand-to-mouth activity like….
- handling your high-Lead bowl, picking up your teacup by the brim — and then drinking your tea.
- handling your Leaded brass item, and then picking up an apple and eating it…
- handling a high-Lead-content item (like the high-Lead faux pearls below) and then unconsciously putting your fingertip into your mouth, biting your nails, etc.
(…all without hand washing in-between)
An isolated interaction is not normally a concern
In most cases (with few exceptions) one usage of one thing like this (one time) is not going to “POISON” you. Said another way: touching a Leaded item once is unlikely to directly contribute to any kind of a measurable change in Blood Lead Level today. However interacting with (and specifically touching with your bare hands / holding / handing or otherwise using) high Lead consumer goods could contribute to the potential aggregate (cumulative) background Lead exposure in your life (and in your body) – over time.
Why should we be concerned about Lead in consumer goods?
- Lead is a potent neurotoxicant and disrupts all biological functions.
- “Most of the Lead that has ever gone in to your body is still there“! (per Dr. Bruce Lanphear’s statement in my film).
- As a result, whenever we can avoid any potential sources of Lead we should (especially in cases where inexpensive Lead-free alternatives are plentiful and readily available!)
- Given the potent toxicity of Lead, we should strive to eliminate Leaded items from our life whether or not any scientific body has been able to definitively demonstrate a potential risk of exposure for that specific type of item, given either normal regular use as intended or any potential exposure resulting from a single use.
- We should strive to avoid any and all potential sources of Lead — because there is no “safe” level of Lead exposure for human beings.
- We should avoid any potential sources of Lead because we cannot count on manufacturers/importers/distributors to evaluate or understand potential health impacts of the products they make (like this singing bowl) because doing so would likely negatively impact their bottom line.
Corporations don’t care
Of course – as Upton Sinclair famously pointed out, it is often in their interest (as a manufacturer) for a company to not know or understand these things… and, as such, most of this (the presence of so many different heavy metal toxicants in consumer goods in use in our homes today) is not regulated at all — because there is no agency or business that would financially benefit [or not be financially negatively impacted] from confirming whether or not a particular Leaded brass item (or other high-Lead content item) might cause harm – when used “as intended” [and separately — when used, as could reasonably be anticipated, by a child, were they to handle the object (regardless of the maker’s ostensible “intended consumer” of the product)].
Government agencies couldn’t possibly step up
With the enormous quantity of consumer goods on the planet (coming from every country and made of every possible material) it is also not possible for any government agency to properly assess these risks on our behalf, so we have to take this on ourselves and make choices that are safest for our families (with the information available to us – in the ABSENCE of comprehensive scientific testing and evaluation of the risk of ALL THINGS.)
So again (in the words of another scientist/researcher in my film, Mark Pokras) together we should strive for a world where the policy is that “Thou shalt not use Lead in anything” – and the best way to get from here to there is to start eliminating consumer goods from our lives that we know to have unsafe levels of Lead. [And perhaps – we can at least hope – this will eventually eliminate the market for these products, which may (in turn) lead to manufacturers ceasing the creation of Lead-containing products.]
As always, thank you for reading and for sharing my posts. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them as soon as I have a moment.
Hi Tamara, I appreciate you writing this out. I am still confused- if there is an item- this brass bowl, for example- and it is only used for decoration, high on a shelf, out of reach of children- could this pose any harm? Does the lead oxidize and create dangerous dust on something like this or perhaps a ceramic bowl? Also, how does the lead transfer when this bowl is handled? If I touch it – does lead stick to my skin? Bad example but, If I touch a kernel of corn- none of the corn transfers on to my skin, and in turn potentially into my body if I was to touch the rim of a cup and then drink from it- so I’m just curious how the lead comes off the bowl when touched. Sorry for the confusion- just genuinely curious and want to have the best understanding – especially as I try to explain these things to others. I feel like a frequently used dish in the kitchen, leaching lead into food makes sense, but I was confused to read that just touching a leaded item (bowl, key, toy, jewelry, etc.) you could expose yourself to lead ingestion (rim of cup example) Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all the work you’re doing! You’re changing the world for the better!
Hi Jess – thanks for commenting,
When you are talking about high Lead brass (50,000 ppm Lead) or high Lead crystal (like 300,000 ppm -or similar with the pearls – which are also painted in Lead paint) the particulates can wear off on to your hands when they are touched for sure. Here’s a post that discusses the degree to which microscopic particulates are a concern:
Brass and crystal in general can also contribute to the contamination of house dust. Here’s a post that discusses that: https://tamararubin.com/2019/11/waterford-leaded-crystal-bud-vase-386000-ppm-lead-39-lead-leaded-crystal-items-can-passively-create-lead-dust-in-your-home/
When washing my Corelle Snowflake dishes in the dishwasher, does the lead from the blue decorative design which is said to be leaded, transfer in the dishwasher to other dishes, or to the white unleaded areas of the dish?
The dishwasher is not the problem- the lead is in the glaze so when you eat food off the plate little bits of lead are in your food.