Published: February 14, 2022 – Monday
In general, vintage and antique books will test positive for unsafe levels of heavy metals — and I do not consider them safe to have in a home with children present. (To see more books I have tested, click here). If you must keep antique books around your home or office, I always recommend a “legal bookcase”-type case (the ones with the glass doors that form a barrier in front of the books – which protects the books as well.) Any kind of enclosed glass case would work, but those legal bookcases seem to be readily available (get a contemporary one — as the vintage/antique cases can have Lead in their finish, too!).
Other solutions for collections of vintage books
I did have one reader who had a fairly large collection of antique books that they felt they needed to keep for family reasons. They chose to put all of these books (along with a few other collectibles that were not safe for children / and/or they did not wish to be handled) in a regular bookshelf and then to got a custom sheet of plexiglass made which they then affixed to the front of the bookshelf.
Another reader had a full wall of vintage and antique books — that she had inherited after her father passed away. She chose to donate the books to the university where her father used to teach – with a name plaque at the front of each of the books.
Having these types of books kept in a university library or other historical preservation situation is preferable to having them kept in a home with children, because they do shed micro-dust (which can contain Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium when those metals are present in the books – as they often are – as they deteriorate [and they can also harbor mold, which is also a potential health hazard in a home environment].)
- Please read this overview post about Lead in books [Is Lead in vintage books a real poisoning concern?]
- Here’s the category posts which lists (in summary form, by decade) most of the books that have been tested and posted on this website.
- This post discusses how much Lead in dust it takes to poison a child.
Full XRF test results for the book picture here.
Reading #1) Cover of the book
- Lead (Pb): 1,478 +/- 29 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 18 +/- 3 ppm
- Mercury (Hg): 133 +/- 12 ppm
- Bromine (Br): 4 +/- 2 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): non-detect
- Iron (Fe): 16,100 +/- 300 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 409 +/- 24 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 313 +/- 16 ppm
Reading #2) Interior pages of the book
- Lead (Pb): 127 +/- 8 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 17 +/- 3 ppm
- Mercury (Hg): non-detect
- Bromine (Br): non-detect
- Chromium (Cr): non-detect
- Iron (Fe): 2,562 +/- 92 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 58 +/- 13 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 31 +/- 6 ppm
Some additional reading / links for those not yet familiar with this work:
- To learn more about the testing methodology employed for the test results reported on this website, click here.
- For a quick menu to explore more categories of tested items on this website, click here.
- For a quick video tutorial showing you how to most efficiently use this website (including all the ways to find Lead-free consumer goods we have tested and reported on), click here.
- To learn more about hiring Tamara for a one-on-one home consultation or a small community event, click here.
- To find out how to send a single item in for testing, click here.
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Also, for those new to this website – a little about Tamara and her work:
Tamara Rubin is a Federal-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. Tamara’s sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in August of 2005. 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. Tamara uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals), including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony and Arsenic. All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate and replicable. Items are tested multiple times to confirm the test results for each component tested. Please click through to this link to learn more about the testing methodology used for the test results discussed and reported on this website.