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Subject: Exposure to lead from book weights

Exposure to lead from book weights

From: Erin Blake <eblake<-a>
Date: Friday, October 17, 2008
I've just been asked how much lead exposure staff and readers in our
rare book library get by handling our two most common kinds of book
weights, and whether this could be dangerous to humans and their
unborn children. The thick book weights (home-made) are unlined
velvet or corduroy tubes filled with uncoated lead shot. The thin
book weights (store-bought) are lead pellets molded onto thread and
encased in knit fabric (with bare lead hanging out the ends as they
wear, until someone notices and trims them).

Does anyone have any actual scientific evidence on lead exposure
from book weights?  Anecdotal evidence suggests the contact is so
minimal that it's not a problem ("As long as no one is chewing on
them, it's fine") but I'm hoping for something measurable.

If need be, we can go to a hardware store and get a reel of 1/4 inch
stainless-steel bead chain to make new snakes like Rare Book School
uses now: doubled-up strands of bead chain in a double-channel
fabric tube. But if it's not urgent, I'd rather postpone.

Erin C. Blake, Ph.D.
Curator of Art and Special Collections
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 E. Capitol St. SE
Washington DC 20003-1004
Fax: 202-675-0328

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:23
                Distributed: Saturday, October 18, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-22-23-014
Received on Friday, 17 October, 2008

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