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Re: [PPLetterpress] Re: health question - fuzzy whitish-grey powdery stuff on old lead alloy type

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  • heidrun mumper-drumm
    Thank you so much for a very informative message. Heidrun
    Message 1 of 11 , Oct 16, 2007
      Thank you so much for a very informative message.


      -----Original Message-----
      >From: Steve Robison <robisonsteve@...>
      >Sent: Oct 16, 2007 2:16 PM
      >To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Re: health question - fuzzy whitish-grey powdery stuff on old lead alloy type
      >(I will be cross posting this on various yahoogroups
      >such as sfletterpress and ppletterpress lists, etc.
      >because I think the topic is worthy of discussion for
      >every letterpress printer...I hope no one gets too
      >upset about that...I just think it falls into the
      >realm o health and safety and deserves to be shared by
      >all -SR)
      >To All:
      >As mentioned in earlier recent ppletterpress posts,
      >the fuzzy whitish-grey powdery stuff on old type is
      >mostly lead carbonate (PbCO3 - aka: "white lead") and
      >is very toxic if ingested. The hydrochloric acid in
      >the human stomach breaks down the PbCO3 and releases
      >the lead into the bloodstream. Once there it is free
      >to travel through the body.
      >Toxic amounts of lead in the bloodstream may cause
      >irreversible neurological damage as well as renal
      >disease, cardiovascular effects, and reproductive
      >toxicity. As a neurotoxin in the brain, particularly
      >in young children, it can be the cause of a whole
      >range of problems with the interruption of
      >neurotransmitter function and overall brain function
      >and can, if not counteracted, cause permanent brain
      >So yeah, this stuff is not to be take lightly. But
      >before I scare you so much that you give up lead alloy
      >type altogether, I want you to know that it can also
      >be handled in ways that substantially mitigate against
      >these risks. So don't freak out completely about this.
      >Just handle it with knowledge and some common sense.
      >Here are the main ways it can cause problems and some
      >common sense steps to deal with it without getting all
      >unnecessarily paranoid about it...
      >1. Don't eat it! (Lead carbonate and other lead salts
      >that may accompany it are actually said to be sweet to
      >the taste, so very young children who are putting
      >anything and everything into their mouths tend to be
      >the most vulnerable...but why would any adult do this
      >except to compete in the Darwin awards???!!!)
      >2. After handling type (fuzzy or not) wash your hands
      >before eating or putting your fingers in your mouth.
      >We learned this in kindergarten to reduce the spread
      >of viruses and bacteria, but it's also a good practice
      >throughout adult life too, especially if you're a
      >letterpress printer and want to have a lead-free life!
      >3. If there is a lot of the lead carbonate dust left
      >in a type case, don't blow on it or otherwise stir it
      >up and breathe it...because the dust will collect in
      >the mucous membranes of your airways and mouth and you
      >will eventually wind up swallowing some of it... and
      >once swallowed it is in your stomach and eventually
      >into your bloodstream.
      >OK. Here's what I do when I obtain used type to reduce
      >and practically eliminate all of these risks...
      >I like to carefully take all of the type out of the
      >case that I receive it in, and then, using rubber
      >gloves, soak and gently bathe and brush the type in a
      >bathe of mineral spirits (paint thinner)using an old
      >toothbrush to remove most of any residual lead
      >carbonate dust and other debris. Remember to only
      >brush the type when it's thoroughly submerged or at
      >least covered with wet solvent so that none of the dry
      >lead carbonate can fly into the air.
      >Some people have also suggested using vinegar (mild
      >acetic acid) to remove the lead carbonate. This
      >certainly works...just remember to wash the type
      >afterward with lots of clear running water to remove
      >any residual acetic acid, or in some way neutralize
      >any remaining acetic acid before returning the type to
      >the case (maybe with a mild baking soda solution
      >followed by a water rinse???). Otherwise the presence
      >of residual acid on the type will actually accelerate
      >the formation of more new lead carbonate after you
      >have just gone to great lengths to removed it!).
      >I then carefully vacuum the type case using my shop
      >vac and avoid breathing any dust. Wearing a dust mask
      >during this process would probably be a good idea too,
      >although I confess that I have never done so. I just
      >make sure the vacuum is sucking up the dust so that
      >it's not getting kicked up in the air. I then take a
      >rag dampened with water(lightly squeezed out so that
      >it's just damp and not dripping wet) and slowly and
      >carefully wipe the compartments of the case to remove
      >any residual dust that might contain any possible lead
      >carbonate. I let the case dry thoroughly, then re-lay
      >the case with the clean type into the clean
      >As I mentioned in earlier posts, if you continue to
      >clean your type after each use on the press with a
      >mild solvent like kerosene or mineral spirits, you
      >will coat the type with a mild residual film which
      >will help prevent any further corrosion.
      >So now that the type and case are cleaned, what do you
      >do with the lead carbonate that you've removed??
      >Well, if you have followed the process above, the lead
      >carbonate will be in solution with the solvent or with
      >the vinegar that you used to clean the type, or in
      >your shop vac after vacuuming the cases, or in the
      >water that you used to rinse the vinegar off the type,
      >or on the damp rag that you used to wipe out the
      >cases...and then what do you do with it??
      >That's a tough question, because in most cases there
      >is very little lead carbonate present in the first
      >place and you can barely see it on most of the used
      >type you obtain In other instances, where it is
      >clearly visible on the type, it is difficult to see it
      >when it is removed and in a liquid solution. So my
      >admonishment is to just do your best to keep as much
      >of it as possible from getting airborne and by keeping
      >as much of it as possible out of the landfill. Do this
      >by containing it in plastic bags, jars, etc....and
      >taking it to your nearest toxic waste disposal site
      >when you need to...along with batteries and other
      >items containing toxic metals. They may look at you a
      >little funny, but hey, they have ways of dealing with
      >it that you don't. Just clearly label it (Lead
      >carbonate in vinegar/Lead carbonate in water, etc.)
      >and hand it over.
      >Or, if you just can't get a grip on all of this, there
      >is always photopolymer!
      >Does this help?
      >Steve Robison
      >Robison Press
      >Belmont, CA (about 25 miles south of San Francisco)
      >Steve Robison
      >Need a vacation? Get great deals
      >to amazing places on Yahoo! Travel.
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