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From: Ellen Silverman (mcguffsilver_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Aug 28 2002 - 14:01:30 PDT

Larry and others on the lead thread,
    My sons are tested for lead periodically. My younger son was found
to have a slight elevation in lead in his blood a number of years ago.
 When that happen, I did some study of lead poison. You are right lead
must be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. The type of
lead that you need to worry about is the type that is small enough for
this to happen. You know like the paint that has dried a flaked or
sanded of a wall. Solid lead is a problem if it gets into the ground it
will 'leach out' contaminating the soil and the plants that grow there
will use it to grow. Which is bad if they are food plants. Another
solid lead problem is lead crystal glass is a problem if you use acidic
food or liquid in them. They did a study of the bones of some high
income families of ancient Rome and found high levels of lead, probably
from drink wine in lead glazed cups. What does lead do? It attacks
brain cells and the nervous system, this is of course especially bad for
the undeveloped bodies of kids. Although the government has set an
accepted level of lead in the blood, there is no safe level, lead will
kill cells at all levels.
    Larry you are probably safe, if you do not grind your own lead
pigment, wear gloves while working with lead pigments, and do not drink
or eat while painting. Oh, and don't fixes the point of your brushes by
twirling it on your tongue. That little trick got the hatters in London
in trouble in the 19th C. Remember the Mad Hatter in Alice in
Wonderland, pointed one to many brushes.
Ellen Silverman
k-8, New Brunswick, NJ