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Subject: Paper coated with red lead

Paper coated with red lead

From: Chris Stavroudis <cstavrou>
Date: Friday, May 8, 1998
Peng-Peng Wang <ppwang [at] ix__netcom__com> writes

>People questioned the safety of handling this red lead treated
>paper. I looked at all the publications at hand and found nothing
>mentioned about the toxicity of red lead.

Let me preface my comments by saying that I know nothing about the
red lead treated paper described in the posting. I have, however,
been researching the potential for lead contamination in
conservation in my most recent Health and Safety columns in the WAAC

Red lead is indeed toxic and is not safe for the artist or
bookmaker. The safety of readers handling books bound with the
treated paper should also not be assumed. In fact, unless
demonstrated safe by rigorous testing, one should assume that the
books pose a risk of lead contamination to anyone handling the book.
One should also assume that the books could shed very fine dust
particles and potentially contaminate the storage area.

Intact, well bound lead based paint can be safe. If the vegetable
glue binder is reactive to water, then touching the red paper could
be hazardous. If the binder is oxidizing and the surface is
chalking, it would be likely to generate lead-based dust. If the
paper is used in such a way that it flexes when the book is opened,
it would nearly certainly release fine particles of toxic pigment.

There are established procedures for testing for lead contamination
that have been accepted for lead-based paint hazards found in
housing. You could also simply assume the books pose a health risk
and modify handling and housekeeping procedures. Latex, vinyl or
nitrile disposable gloves could be worn by anyone handling the
books. The area where the books are stored should be cleaned only
with a HEPA filtered vacuum.

If you are in California and the books are accessible to the public,
you might also have to post a Proposition 65 warning that the books
contain materials known to the State of California to cause cancer
or reproductive toxicity.

Chris Stavroudis
Paintings Conservator in Private Practice
Los Angeles, California

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:92
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 14, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-92-004
Received on Friday, 8 May, 1998

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