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Subject: Paper coated with red lead

Paper coated with red lead

From: Hilary A. Kaplan <hkaplan>
Date: Friday, May 8, 1998
I forwarded Peng Peng Wang's query about red lead onto industrial
hygienist, Monona Rossol and her comments appear below.  She replies
with comments "off the cuff," given that she is very busy at the
moment, but I think her comments are still useful.

    1.  Tests show that lead oxide skin absorbs, so there would be
        some exposure that way.  If the paper gets old and dusty,
        there could be some inhalation exposure as well.  And as I
        remember Amur cork sap contains a bright yellow
        dye--berberine, I think--that is both a poison and a

        Makes you think twice about thumbing through an old book!

    2.  If some hot shot thinks this is a good idea and buys red
        lead and tries it, the exposure could be a serious problem.
        The powdered material gets easily air borne and could soon
        contaminate both the workplace and the worker.  If red lead
        is used in a school or business more than 30 days a year,
        the employer will find himself in violation of the OSHA Lead
        Standard unless personal air monitoring is done during the
        work.  The results of the monitoring could then trigger a
        host of other rules including blood lead tests, special
        ventilation, showers and changing rooms, etc.

        Using lead legally in the U.S. is prohibitively expensive
        which I think that a good thing.

    3.  Selling something with lead paint--manufactured by the
        artist/maker--in the US would put the artist/maker's
        liability in great jeopardy. First, the artist/maker could
        be sued if any personal injury or damages resulted from use
        of the book (e.g. a child gets into it, an unsophisticated
        user gets exposed, etc.).   Second, since the red lead/glue
        paint was made by the artist, the artist also could be sued
        under product liability. Ouch.

        The injured party now owns the artist's house and car.

    4.  The misconception that lead is only a problem if swallowed
        extends to current Chinese exports to the U.S.  In 1997, 11
        brands of Chinese-made children's crayons were recalled due
        to lead content.  A lot of other toys and similar items also
        were recalled as dangerous and misbranded products. And
        China was the major manufacturer of the million or so
        miniblinds that were recalled last year.  There was so much
        lead filler in the vinyl plastic blinds that it exuded from
        the surface in amounts that could harm children who touched

    Now that I feel better and everyone else is upset, I'll send

    Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety
    181 Thompson St., # 23
    New York NY 10012-2586

Hilary A. Kaplan
Georgia Department of Archives and History
330 Capitol Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30334
Fax: 404-651-8471

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:92
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 14, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-92-005
Received on Friday, 8 May, 1998

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