Tamara Rubin is an independent advocate for consumer goods safety, and she is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009, and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. She uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for metallic toxicants (including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic). To read more about the testing methodology employed for the test results reported on this blog, please click this link.
July 19, 2021 – Monday
I picked up this “souvenir” when helping a family review the items in their home (so they could remove potentially-toxic things and prevent any possible Lead exposure for their children). Sometimes when I go to a home and find a really good example of something I do not yet have up on my blog (or in my collection of Leaded items), I ask if they will give it to me so I can do a complete series of tests and write up a post to share with others on the blog. This knife is actually an excellent example of something I talk about quite a bit in my work with families.
It’s almost always material-transitions (e.g. a handle/blade joint) that are a concern in potentially-toxic knives (& other flatware.)
In general, I don’t have a concern for kitchen knives (from a Lead perspective). An exception to this is when the knife is constructed of more than one material, such as when metal of the blade of the knife is obviously made of a different material than the handle of the knife. Lead can present itself in many different scenarios, including with sterling Silver knives (in which both materials are metal – but different metals: the handle is usually sterling, but the blade is normally stainless), and even in knives that look like they are made of the same metal throughout (for example – with a stainless blade and a stainless handle — but have a join seam of a slightly different-colored metal.
While sometimes it can be hard to tell if the components of a knife are made of different materials or not – In this case (with the knife pictured here), it is a shockingly obvious concern — as the hard plastic Bakelite (which also separately tested positive for Lead) is attached to the metal of the blade with what literally amounts to a hunk of nearly-solid Lead (with some Antimony – also highly toxic – and Tin thrown in for good measure).
If you have a knife (or other vintage flatware or serving pieces) with a gray metal join point like this (or something similar) please stop using it for food use purposes and please consider throwing the set out (even breaking them before disposing of them, so they can never be used by another family). The metal component of the handle of this knife will normally also test positive with a LeadCheck swab (as the component is nearly solid Lead) and I will be making a video to show that shortly (so subscribe to the Lead Safe Mama YouTube Channel if you want to be among the first to see that!)
Note: nearly solid Lead join points can also be found in vintage/antique sterling silver baby cups (where the handle is attached to the cup.) These spots will also test positive with a swab and if your vintage/antique silver baby cup handle is attached with Leaded solder it should not be considered safe for children to use. I also see bare/exposed leaded solder at the attachment points of the handles on MOST (but not all) copper “Moscow Mule” mugs. In addition to high Lead solder being used to attach the handles to these cups, the handles on these mugs are also traditionally very high-Lead brass (approximately 30,000 to 40,000 ppm Lead normally.)
Look for flatware that is all-stainless in construction – or at least that does not have an obvious join point made up of what may be mixed metals (or possibly Lead-contaminated solder, as is often found with vintage or antique sterling silver flatware). Here’s a link to a good (likely Lead-free) flatware set on Amazon*: https://amzn.to/2VYFIgV I will be posting more safe (likely Lead-free) flatware choices shortly on www.ShopLeadSafeMama.com.
Continue reading below the image of the join point of this knife.
Full XRF Test Results for the Knife Pictured
#1.) Metal blade of knife
30-second test: Stainless Steel 416
- Bromine (Br): 20 +/- 9 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 122,800 +/- 600 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 378 +/- 124 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 4,803 +/- 433 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 868,600 +/- 1,000 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 1,464 +/- 186 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 946 +/- 109 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 98 +/- 36 ppm
- Molybdenum (Mo): 740 +/- 57 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 72 +/- 16 ppm
#2.) Gray metal join point of knife (joining handle to blade)
- Lead (Pb): 760,500 +/- 1,300 ppm
- Bromine (Br): 127 +/- 35 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 5,863 +/- 471 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 12,700 +/- 400 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 2,023 +/- 109 ppm
- Selenium (Se): 331 +/- 151 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 3,156 +/- 1,063 ppm
- Zirconium (Zr): 296 +/- 56 ppm
- Niobium (Nb): 378 +/- 61 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 101,900 +/- 500
- Antimony (Sb): 110,500 +/- 500 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 1,212 +/- 206 ppm
- Tungsten (W): 1,044 +/- 314 ppm
#3.) Yellow of bakelite handle
- Lead (Pb): 2,804 +/- 16 ppm
- Bromine (Br): 41 +/- 1 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 55 +/- 13 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 100 +/- 7 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 5 +/- 3 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 55 +/- 3 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 3+/- 2 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 428 +/- 7 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 395 +/- 7 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 55 +/- 28 ppm
- Gold (Au): 9 +/- 2 ppm
- Bismuth (Bi): 14 +/- 5 ppm
#4.) Red of bakelite handle
- Iron (Fe): 28 +/- 8 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 6 +/- 3 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 97 +/- 42 ppm
Some additional reading that might be of interest:
- The post discussing the testing methodology used on this website
- Post discussing how to send in an item for testing
- My “Silverware” overview post – with links to all of the silverware examples and test results here on the blog.
- “Can I test these myself at home?”
Thanks for reading. Thank you for sharing my posts. As always, please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them personally as soon as I have a moment (which may not be right away – but I will try!)
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