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Some people might fear the metal Lead just like giant bugs which haunt them in their nightmares! They might feel insecure even when they are simply writing stuff with a mechanical or a regular pencil; because it’s got a lead! Aaaah, glass-shattering scream…
I know lead is way bad for health. But does this apply to mechanical pencil leads too? Is mechanical pencil lead toxic? The straightforward answer is: no, they are not toxic. No need to freak out anymore.
In general, Lead is a toxic metal and causes a lot of health issues. On the contrary, mechanical pencil leads don’t impact your health. You might think about why this happens and what are the differences between the two types of lead? Be prepared, you are going to find out soon.
Table of Contents
We are directly diving into the most interesting part of our topic. So, first, let’s talk about the toxic metal, Lead (Pb).
From the 82nd position of the periodic table, we present to you Lead (Pb), a heavy metal that is considered to be very dangerous for human beings. It may cause some diseases like anemia. It may also damage the human brain, kidneys and it can even go to the extent of damaging the nervous system of a baby in the mother’s womb. Exposure to very high levels of this metal can even take lives.
Seeing all of these, if you feel like you are starting to get haunted by your pencil lead, I believe that’s normal. I mean who would like to die just because of painting something with a mechanical pencil! Okay, I think that’s terrifying enough to be considered as an intro of a real health hazard metal. Now, it’s time to talk about the connection between pencil leads and the toxic metal – Lead (Pb).
Long, long ago, Romans used a tool for etching into wax tablets and writing on papers made from papyrus plants. The device was known as a Stylus. It was made from the toxic metal – Lead and is quite similar to modern-day styluses that you use on your smartphones or tablets. If you were a Roman back in those days, I think it would have been legit to feel insecure while using those pencils.
Many years later, in the early 15th century, people discovered a massive source of solid and pure graphite in Cumbria. After the discovery, it was thought that graphite was a form of the toxic metal – Lead (Pb). And back then people used graphite blocks by sawing them into sticks to use as pencils to write.
Time passed but the name remains. That’s why people still call the graphite of the pencil a lead. So, I hope it’s crystal clear now that there is nothing to worry about the leads of the pencils whether they belong to a regular or a mechanical pencil.
If you hear someone saying: can you get lead poisoning from a mechanical pencil? You can just answer it in a simple and straightforward way by saying “no”. Because pencil leads contain Graphite, not the actual Lead (Pb) and Graphite is a non-toxic element.
However, when it comes to swallowing pencil leads, this is a different scenario than just writing with it. And this scenario might be very common among toddlers and even adults with bad habits; surprisingly they might even like the taste! Should they be worried?
Not that much, but if a toddler swallows, the parents should. Because it might cause him to vomit or ache in the stomach but nothing severe. However, you might see him choking while swallowing a pencil. If that happens, you should seek help from a doctor, because pencil lead is considered to be a choking hazard.
If the toddler merely just sucked the lead of the pencil, just clean his mouth using a soft, damp cloth and allow him to drink some water.
The next scenario is: if you get stabbed by a mechanical pencil intentionally or by accident, you will be fine except for the wound. Because, as the lead of a mechanical pencil gets in contact with the paper, your hand, and other surfaces, no wonder it can contain a lot of disease-carrying microbes i.e. pathogens in it. That’s why there is a possibility of getting a bacterial infection.
Other than that, the lead itself will leave no chemical impact however you should use soap water to wash the wounded area. You should also use a band-aid to keep the area clean and protect it from infections.
The stab marks will fade over time but if it is deep, most likely it will not vanish on its own. And if a lead breaks off under your skin, it will not be harmful but you might get a blue-greyish mark on the spot. But don’t worry; you can seek help from a dermatologist if you get a lead stuck inside the skin layer.
Now you know that pencil leads are just products made from non-toxic Graphite. They don’t affect your health at all, let alone poisoning. Graphite is made of the second most abundant element of the planet earth, Carbon; which can even be found in your body!
So, next time when people ask you: is mechanical pencil lead poisonous? Or, can you get lead poisoning from a mechanical pencil? Tackle their questions like a professional mechanical pencil specialist!
Hi, I’m Andy Gary, the founder of Writers Need and a stationery enthusiast. I love to blog about anything regarding writing and have created lots of pages that I can now share with others!