March 16, 2015
Question from Mama E. In Los Angeles, California
Is there lead in pencils? Remember as kids we had #2 lead pencils? Still in there? Just threw out all the cheap ones they get as prizes/gifts and got the ‘non toxic’ Ticonderoga version. No mention of lead on the box.
– Mama E.
No one has really used lead in writing instruments [aside from some painted coatings or contaminated plastic, etc.]—for centuries at least; the center of a pencil is and has always been made of graphite. There are historical records of a stick of solid lead being used as a crude writing instrument in antiquity (I believe back in Roman times) but – to my knowledge actual pencils (the ones wrapped in wood) have never contained lead as the writing element. However – there have been instances where lead paint was found as the decorative exterior coating on some pencils in recent decades (even within the last 10 years.) BUT please note – since Prop 65 and the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), even lead paint on pencils is not so much a concern any more PLUS most children‘s pencils (pencils specifically marketed to younger children – and therefore regulated under the law) are not decorated with paint, but wrapped in decorative paper with designs.[FWIW – I too buy Ticonderoga for my family.]
Thank you to Mama C. for responding to this question and sharing this link about “Why pencil lead is called lead.”: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/11/why-pencil-lead-is-called-lead/
Piece on Lead Paint on Pencils from 1971: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1937194/?page=1
Link for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Regulations-Laws–Standards/Statutes/The-Consumer-Product-Safety-Improvement-Act/
Wikipedia Page mentioning Leaded Roman Stylus’: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pencil
California Prop 65: http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65.html