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Re: LEAD..okay, tell me more... toxic! (was rubber cement)


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Aug 28 2002 - 06:08:32 PDT

From: Sharon Henneborn <>
>I had a friend who worked with a small amount of lead in her art work.
>She was very healthy and kept the windows open and saw no reason to
>make a change. In her late 30s she collapsed in her studio and was
>taken to emergency. She died within a few days. Autopsy revealed
>very high levels of lead. She never had a warning symptom.

I found this of interest, and wanted to respond. I hear so many different
things about lead...I'm not sure what to absolutely believe about it.
Moderating a number of forums on an online international artist's community
of about 11,000 artists, ( this is a frequent discussion among
oil painters. Lead in paint has a high opacity, and leads to a thick
buttery application. I love the use of Naples Yellow, on occasion as a
substitute for white.. using it to create unique pastels with its own
tinting powers where I want a sense of lighter value. White is technically
a cold color, and kills the chroma intensity of what you see painting from
life outdoors (plein air) in color affected by direct sunlight. Its also a
great sand and rock color/value. Part of Naples Yellows secret is its lead

I also like mixing a true copal resin with Flake white...which is lead
based, and gives an awesome buttery covering texture.

I spoke with a special ed person from our school last year (remember we live
in Wisconsin's northwoods), and he reloads for his rifles and muskets. I
have a new 45/70 and he and I would chat about the benefits of reloading,
accuracy, control etc; One thing he and many reloaders do is hunt for odd
and end lead. Like an old discarded piano is filled with lead weights.
These you melt down over a fire, and then pour into molds. According to his
knowledge and shared knowledge of others that do this, the whole lead thing
is a blown out of proportion thing. He insists that lead must be ingested.
That you don't get lead poison just from the handling of it, that it does
not enter the body that way.

He did stress caution and care...and must be cautious to wash hands, not
bite finger nails after handling, etc;

I hear similar arguments with oil painters, etc;

Being in the middle of all this....all I can say is I'm not completely
convinced either way. I use rubber gloves when I first mix my oils...and
especially because I use a rag with turps to wipe and block in my
underpainting masses.

I don't fear it...but, am cautious with it. As for lead bullets...I guess I
don't have a problem handling them either.

If anyone can cite more scientific research, biological studies...whatever,
on lead I'd be of interest to read them. Then....I'd have an 11,000 artist
minded temperment community to confront! hahaha...

Larry S.