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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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I'm a physicist...

There are just now some studies being done, but they are not published and they are being used to try to prevent lead from being used in mouthpieces (after all, it is just a machining convenience) through lawsuits.
You know better than most here that the reason a study may not be yet published is because it does not stand credible peer review. Same thing with lawsuits - just because there is a suit does not substantiate a credible claim.

Now that you have shown that a qualitative tests gives a positive result, please show that detectable levels exist in biological solutions at credible exposure environments.

Meanwhile, if you don’t want the potential of exposure, please throw away your brass mouthpiece that has proven to contain lead. If you believe it is a risk for you - and I do respect your right to make personal choices, don’t play a metal mouthpiece. Even a stainless steel mouthpiece may have had a surface treatment that leaves chemical residue.
 

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With water faucets the old advice was to run the water for a little while before drinking or using for cooking. Any water in contact with lead for an extended period of time inside the pipes will be flushed out. At least that was the theory.

As far as mouthpieces I’d get an old one re-played if it were mine.
 

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Can anyone advise the lead content in current production Otto Link pieces?
My understanding is that current federal law defines “lead-free” for plumbing fittings as containing 0.25% lead. Since most brass fittings are cast similar to sax mouthpieces, 100 percent lead free brass exists but there are patents on manufacture and only a single supplier exists. I would suspect that if a mouthpiece manufacturer is using this brass they would advertise if.

 

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My understanding is that current federal law defines “lead-free” for plumbing fittings as containing 0.25% lead. Since most brass fittings are cast similar to sax mouthpieces, 100 percent lead free brass exists but there are patents on manufacture and only a single supplier exists. I would suspect that if a mouthpiece manufacturer is using this brass they would advertise if.

Please note that not all brass mouthpieces are cast. While that may have been more true in the past, a great many mouthpieces are machined, and therefore use “free-machining” brass.

Red Hed‘s blog cites “proprietary” - that is not the same as patented. There are a great many alloys out there, with more created all the time for special needs and interests. Thanks for sharing the blog blurb on this one.
 

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You know better than most here that the reason a study may not be yet published is because it does not stand credible peer review. Same thing with lawsuits - just because there is a suit does not substantiate a credible claim.

Now that you have shown that a qualitative tests gives a positive result, please show that detectable levels exist in biological solutions at credible exposure environments.

Meanwhile, if you don’t want the potential of exposure, please throw away your brass mouthpiece that has proven to contain lead. If you believe it is a risk for you - and I do respect your right to make personal choices, don’t play a metal mouthpiece. Even a stainless steel mouthpiece may have had a surface treatment that leaves chemical residue.
As I said, I am not sure there is a good method to determine the extent of lead absorption and risk, but there might be, and the tests performed by CEH (Center for Environmental Health) were aimed at just that. Their claim was that lead leaches from brass mouthpieces exposed to saliva even when they are plated. I think they had articles on their results available, but I recall they were not detailed. They are not in the business of science and publishing research, they are a consumer protection non-profit. I don't think they tried to publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal -- the results seem to be embargoed while their litigation was/is in progress. One thing about publishing is peer-reviewed journals is that it takes funding and recognized academic qualifications, and this is a very specialized area where there may not be enough academic interest due to its impact on a small number of people. This is just one effort of theirs in a series of many unrelated efforts. What would they have to gain? They are not fear-mongering for fun; they are activists trying to protect others from environmental hazards. Kids play brass mouthpieces in school. But yes, in principle, the existence of a lawsuit does not make its claim credible. Also, peer review can help, but it is far from perfect and after years of experience publishing research, I find peer review does little to prevent incorrect published work. In cases where work can be reproduced, publication provides the results and methods and allows others to attempt to do so. I would love to see such work published by qualified experts, but I also recognize it is a question which is very hard to answer quantitatively.

In my posts #8 and #10 the results you requested are clear. There is a relatively high lead concentration on the surface of this bare brass mouthpiece. I can get it measured accurately at a lab near me if I need to, but for me it's enough. I am a physicist, not working on materials, and not a biologist or medical researcher, and am not interested in an extensive investigation into an area (risk of actual absorption) where I don't think there is a definitive answer due to the many variables. In my personal judgement, the risk of lead exposure and absorption is high in this situation. I have not played this mouthpiece since I tested it and I do not plan to play it until it is plated. If the plating begins to wear, I will get it replated. Or, I might duplicate it in a non-toxic material. I would be interested in suggestions on that. This is a great mouthpiece for me. I will probably get this mouthpiece silver, then gold-plated over that, but I have also switched to hard rubber until then.

I would like others to be aware of this hazard, and I have to wonder why a certain subset of members here goes out of their way to attack every post that suggests lead is hazardous in bare brass mouthpieces. You guys are the ones that have no data or evidence to support your claim that there is no significant risk of lead absorption from bare brass mouthpieces. There is plenty of information available on the risks of lead exposure in general. If I were you, I would be concerned about being held liable for such potentially misleading claims. I know some of you are in the mouthpiece business or have sold mouthpieces.
 

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This issue has been going around the internet for a long time and there are certainly concerns about it. Whether the concerns are only of a legal nature or medical may be the question.

Someone may want to assess en address that question with some research.

Apparently some companies have done that.

Dennis Wick for example (but I am not aware thy published the results).

Dennis Wick, one of the most important brass instrument mouthpieces has added a label to comply with proposition 65, that has been done by many companies

I own a modern Stetson Hat which comes with such a label too.



similar things have been published by many companies ( these are the onses that I could find with a quick search but I am in no doubt that every company producing brass mouthpieces has similar compliance)





and so on ( practically every brand has issued such a warning for legal reasons so we can assume this involves the entire industry)


BUT it is not only brass or bronze that may be mentioned here, also many plastics have their problems too


So the matter may not be simply don’t use brass mouthpieces anymore, but yes, it is an issue
 

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Its clearly an issue some people consider enough to make certain decisions. My only issue is this is the internet. Say apples are dangerous ten times and it becomes true. I dont think I am more biased than anyone else about the matter. Yes, I sell metal pieces. I also sell them made from different materials. Either way Im just fine. Id just like to see facts and so far there are only beliefs. Of course we are in an age that considers beliefs much like fact. Im not sure how that happened.
 

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Dennis Wick says they believe their brasswinds mouthpieces are safe , that they have tested the mouthpieces but they don’t talk of the results of tests BUT they say they don’t sell raw brass (which have been tested).

Yes, it is , in the end, a matter of choice, nevertheless tests should be performed and made public and THEN choice could be made on base of facts.

Once we have the facts I have to say that we may need some sort of laws about regulating this.

I play a goldplated brass mouthpiece (Brancher) but in the past I’ve played Ponzol (also brass).

Ponzol says he has gone to Stainless Steel because of this


“...
Peter Ponzol has always been concerned about mouthpiece materials and how safe they are for a player to put in their mouth. Most metal mouthpieces on the market are made of brass or bronze alloys. Because these alloys can have any number of various metals and materials in the metal, they may not be safe use unless properly plated. Chemicals used during the plating process are also not safe. As the plating wears on a mouthpiece, the player may be exposed to unsafe metals or metals they may be allergic to.

We use surgical stainless steel for our mouthpieces. This material is extremely durable and one of the safest materials to play. Stainless steel does not require plating so no unsafe chemicals are ever used in the production of the mouthpiece. There is no plating to wear or flake and the mouthpiece will show very little wear even after decades of use. ...."
 

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Brass doesn’t concern me.
But whatever that stuff is that Dukoff powerchambers are made of seems dodgy.
Same with those old Golbeck and Kaspar pieces.
Feels like some sort of pewter.
Has the texture of lead.
 

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Anyway, lead is added to brass as a machining lubricant. It does not alloy with the brass, it is interspersed throughout the brass in the form of lead globules. I imagine these get smeared all over the surface during any cutting/machining/polishing/etc.
No need to imagine:

The pattern the globules form on the surface of the brass increases the available lead surface area which in turn affects the degree of leaching. In addition, cutting operations can smear the lead globules over the surface. These effects can lead to significant lead leaching from brasses of comparatively low lead content.
Document Display | NEPIS | US EPA

I would like others to be aware of this hazard, and I have to wonder why a certain subset of members here goes out of their way to attack every post that suggests lead is hazardous in bare brass mouthpieces. You guys are the ones that have no data or evidence to support your claim that there is no significant risk of lead absorption from bare brass mouthpieces.
Amen brother. I've held firm for years now on the site in stressing that at the very least, young players should not be playing on bare brass mouthpieces.
 

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I have not deleted or modified any text below except to emphasize in bold.

As I said, I am not sure there is a good method to determine the extent of lead absorption and risk, but there might be, and the tests performed by CEH (Center for Environmental Health) were aimed at just that. Their claim was that lead leaches from brass mouthpieces exposed to saliva even when they are plated. I think they had articles on their results available, but I recall they were not detailed. They are not in the business of science and publishing research, they are a consumer protection non-profit. I don't think they tried to publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal -- the results seem to be embargoed while their litigation was/is in progress. One thing about publishing is peer-reviewed journals is that it takes funding and recognized academic qualifications, and this is a very specialized area where there may not be enough academic interest due to its impact on a small number of people. This is just one effort of theirs in a series of many unrelated efforts. What would they have to gain? They are not fear-mongering for fun; they are activists trying to protect others from environmental hazards. Kids play brass mouthpieces in school. But yes, in principle, the existence of a lawsuit does not make its claim credible. Also, peer review can help, but it is far from perfect and after years of experience publishing research, I find peer review does little to prevent incorrect published work. In cases where work can be reproduced, publication provides the results and methods and allows others to attempt to do so. I would love to see such work published by qualified experts, but I also recognize it is a question which is very hard to answer quantitatively.

In my posts #8 and #10 the results you requested are clear. There is a relatively high lead concentration on the surface of this bare brass mouthpiece. I can get it measured accurately at a lab near me if I need to, but for me it's enough. I am a physicist, not working on materials, and not a biologist or medical researcher, and am not interested in an extensive investigation into an area (risk of actual absorption) where I don't think there is a definitive answer due to the many variables. In my personal judgement, the risk of lead exposure and absorption is high in this situation. I have not played this mouthpiece since I tested it and I do not plan to play it until it is plated. If the plating begins to wear, I will get it replated. Or, I might duplicate it in a non-toxic material. I would be interested in suggestions on that. This is a great mouthpiece for me. I will probably get this mouthpiece silver, then gold-plated over that, but I have also switched to hard rubber until then.
If you truly believe what you write, then don’t bother with plating. Do the research to find a material that is unassailable acceptable to you, and have your mouthpiece replicated - or find another that works equally well.

I would like others to be aware of this hazard, and I have to wonder why a certain subset of members here goes out of their way to attack every post that suggests lead is hazardous in bare brass mouthpieces. You guys are the ones that have no data or evidence to support your claim that there is no significant risk of lead absorption from bare brass mouthpieces. There is plenty of information available on the risks of lead exposure in general. If I were you, I would be concerned about being held liable for such potentially misleading claims. I know some of you are in the mouthpiece business or have sold mouthpieces.
I don’t go “out of my way to attack“ your post. I respect your perspective - at the same time I don’t agree that the risk is as great as you claim. I am concerned that you use a qualitative test, and use that as “science” to prove a case. Yes, it is present, but neither you nor I know its sensitivity. For some, the presence in any quantity is enough proof, and I thank you for sharing that.

As I and others have previously suggested to those similarly concerned, if you believe there is an unacceptable risk - even if plated, don’t play a metal mouthpiece. If you do the research, you may ultimately determine there is too great a risk of biological hazards as well That arise from hygienic issues of things growing in your mouthpiece at levels below optical detection.
 
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On the subject of apples....absolutely LETHAL, the seeds contain Amygdalin which leads to Hydrogen Cyanide production in the body dont you know. Wont someone think of the children!

Life is full of risks. Unless you are prepared to stop traveling by automobile for fear of dying in a wreck and are removing all the machined brass plumbing fixtures in your home as well, giving up brass mouthpieces due to the risk posed by the lead content seems a disproportionate reaction to me. Especially if its an old one, any lead at the surface has either been there for years and gone nowhere, or has long since leached away. Given the size and lack of mobility of lead atoms any lead at the surface is not about to be replaced by diffusion of lead from the interior.
 

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I have not deleted or modified any text below except to emphasize in bold.



If you truly believe what you write, then don’t bother with plating. Do the research to find a material that is unassailable acceptable to you, and have your mouthpiece replicated - or find another that works equally well.



I don’t go “out of my way to attack“ your post. I respect your perspective - at the same time I don’t agree that the risk is as great as you claim. I am concerned that you use a qualitative test, and use that as “science” to prove a case. Yes, it is present, but neither you nor I know its sensitivity. For some, the presence in any quantity is enough proof, and I thank you for sharing that.

As I and others have previously suggested to those similarly concerned, if you believe there is an unacceptable risk - even if plated, don’t play a metal mouthpiece. If you do the research, you may ultimately determine there is too great a risk of biological hazards as well That arise from hygienic issues of things growing in your mouthpiece at levels below optical detection.
Sorry about that, I was not intending to argue with you directly, I just happened to reply to your particular message. I have not claimed the risk is measured. I have not proven anything other than that there is significant lead on the surface of my bare brass mouthpiece. Again we are down to beliefs. To me, considering the evidence regarding lead exposure in general and the various tensions between economics and safety, there is significant risk. I was trying to avoid singling out people and getting into a debate. Especially when I made my point at the end...

I'm also conveying what I know of the risks highlighted by others. There is not enough information available to us on whether lead leaches through plating, and it may be an issue only when plating is worn, but then again these platings are thin. CEH has highlighted that as a risk even in plated mouthpieces and claimed to measure it under realistic conditions. I don't know where I stand on that yet. Ideally there would be no lead in my mouthpieces.
 

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I have tested my mouthpiece and the test lit up more red than any lead paint from the 1800's. I know there is plenty of lead on the surface, available for absorption.
The test result is below. These test swabs are available on Amazon and are much more cost-effective than the kits at big box stores.
I have not claimed the risk is measured. I have not proven anything other than that there is significant lead on the surface of my bare brass mouthpiece.
Assess risk as you must and make the decision that is appropriate for you.

However, for others reading this, I'd like to point out that these spot tests are not reliable indicators of significant surface lead. In addition to the fact (as @Dr G points out) that the test result is qualitative (i.e., it provides no quantitative information about lead level) the type of test kit used here (a sodium rhodizonate swab spot test) has not been approved by the EPA, and for good reason. In particular, this NIST report published in 2000 recommended against the use of such kits after their controlled laboratory study (detailed in the report) found that they produced excessive false-positives (with false-positive rates exceeding 50% in several conditions!).
 
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