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Realize that we have not even broached the possibility that our metal mouthpieces could be made with radioactive scrap metal

Radioactive scrap metal - Wikipedia

Howeve, I have no doubt that if some testing group went out looking for radiation in metal mouthpiece they would find it.


Scrap metal is the one thing where radiation control is generally very thorough in most countries.

If there is one thing that it has been checked at the very least in the last 20 years., it has to be metal.

Metal is checked for radiation at melting plants ( with occasional alarms going off at low thresholds since they apparently are able to catch even natural sources of radioactive material)

and also int he port of entry in most countries in the world



 

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Well, crap. This is like the worst discussion I've read on SOTW ever.

I only have two metal mouthpieces: a bronze Lawton for my tenor and a bronze or brass Otto Link for bari. I'm pretty sure my Lawton is not gold plated. I know my Otto Link isn't gold plated because it tarnishes.

But I guess I'll be looking to buy some stainless steel mouthpieces now.
You read this thread and are still worried? That wasnt what I took from it based on the information presented by the resident material science experts.
 

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You read this thread and are still worried? That wasnt what I took from it based on the information presented by the resident material science experts.
Careful -- With all due respect, as a scientist I see some inconsistencies in these arguments, and I have not changed my view based on anything I have seen...why not err on the side of caution? Particularly note the information on lead globules present on the surface of bare machined brass and the positive lead test which is qualitatively consistent with that (I have only seen consistent results so far with this admittedly consumer grade test). Again, nothing is proven regarding absorption, but I don't think many of us would knowingly put lead in our mouths; the lead is present on the surface of bare brass mouthpieces and does not have to diffuse out of the brass. I appreciate everyone's input and balanced views. To me this needs to be investigated in more detail. Sorry if I am repeating myself.
 

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Definitely it is the blood lead concentration that matters, but there are so many variables and it seems not many studies. If lead is present on the surface of a mouthpiece in significant concentrations, in the presence of saliva for extended periods of time, it could potentially be absorbed by the saliva and swallowed. From the discussion, there is both doubt and concern that this could be a significant source of exposure.
Careful -- With all due respect, as a scientist I see some inconsistencies in these arguments, and I have not changed my view based on anything I have seen...why not err on the side of caution? Particularly note the information on lead globules present on the surface of bare machined brass and the positive lead test which is qualitatively consistent with that (I have only seen consistent results so far with this admittedly consumer grade test). Again, nothing is proven regarding absorption, but I don't think many of us would knowingly put lead in our mouths; the lead is present on the surface of bare brass mouthpieces and does not have to diffuse out of the brass. I appreciate everyone's input and balanced views. To me this needs to be investigated in more detail. Sorry if I am repeating myself.
You need to determine the best choice for YOU. I find it incredible that you still consider replating your mouthpiece and using it. If I were similarly concerned, I would first act to protect myself against harm.

Please also include your concerns regarding your metal mouthpieces when you offer them for sale. If you truly believe they constitute a health risk, you should not sell them knowing that they will pose a similar risk to anyone else.
 

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In the interim, it might be worth pointing out that @Grumps linked to what seems like a very pertinent government study (one examining the rate at which various metals from cut brass fittings leached into water)..
The main takeaway from that for me, was the leeching of lead in higher concentration than its content when worked upon. One would have to wonder, until further study specific for the issue is done (if ever), is how acidic saliva can play a role. What I've maintained all along throughout these discussions, is that as lead poisoning poses more dire consequences for children, at the very least I wouldn't suggest that they play refaced bare brass mouthpieces given what we do know. I don't believe that position to be too cautious or overly worrisome, yet the same folks come into these threads to shame such concerns. I do however, appreciate your more even hand.
 

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The main takeaway from that for me, was the leeching of lead in higher concentration than its content when worked upon.
I don't remember that (I'll have to revisit the paper) but, in any event, I think the absolute concentrations (i.e., leached into solution) are what is most relevant.

Edit: I just looked back at the study and I think the way you phrased this might be a bit misleading. Here, I think is a better way to put your point, with the appropriate context:
  1. Very little of the metal in brass fittings and pipes leaches into a water solution contained therein (i.e., this is what makes them good for carrying water, otherwise they would quickly dissolve).
  2. The (miniscule) amount of each metal (e.g., copper, zinc, lead) leached into the solution can generally be predicted as a function of the composition of the brass. I.e., the amount of each metal leached is generally a monotonic function of the proportion of each metal in the alloy.
  3. When brass is freshly cut, the relationship described in (2) is less reliable, because the cutting operations can increase concentration of lead at the cut surface of the brass.
  4. Over time, as corrosion products form and surface lead is dissolved, the rate of lead leaching slows and point (2) applies (i.e., for lead; copper seems to leach at a greater than expected rate over long time periods) .

One would have to wonder, until further study specific for the issue is done (if ever), is how acidic saliva can play a role.
Healthy saliva is pretty neutral. The pH of even very "acidic" saliva rarely falls below about 6.2. Also, while the paper you originally linked to doesn't include conditions with a pH this low, it does cite previous research that has looked more systematically into the effects of pH on the leaching of metals from brass. We shouldn't have to speculate, we can look up those papers.
 

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I don't remember that (I'll have to revisit the paper) but, in any event, I think the absolute concentrations (i.e., leached into solution) are what is most relevant.
Been years since I read it as well, but it had to do with the smearing of globules rising to the surface upon cutting operations on brass that contained relatively low levels of lead to begin with. Seriously though, would you want your young child playing on a refaced bare brass saxophone mouthpiece over a course of years? That would give you no pause?
 

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Seriously though, would you want your young child playing on a refaced bare brass saxophone mouthpiece over a course of years? That would give you no pause?
I don't have any children, but frankly I'd be more worried about the cleanliness/hygiene of the mouthpiece than about trace amounts of lead, and the antimicrobial properties of brass might actually be a plus with respect to the former concern.

For my own part, I always plate my refaced pieces, and replate my old pieces when the plating comes off, but that's mainly because (1) I don't like the taste of unplated brass and (2) I don't like the idea of my expensive, precision facings wearing away over time due to corrosion.
 

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Based on what I鈥檝e learned about lead levels in brass saxophone mouthpieces, I would encourage all youth players to play on a brass that is fully encapsulated by plating. Furthermore, I would advise adults that lead may be exposed during refacing and that if they have a concern they should speak to their medical provider. I lack the base knowledge to assess risk of exposure and risks associated with exposure to lead.

I have learned that lead is primarily absorbed via consumption and inhalation, so playing an unplated saxophone mouthpiece that contains lead creates a risk of exposure (however minimal since no player is actually consuming the mouthpiece). Perhaps I will also wear a mask while refacing and wash my hands before licking my fingers.

These statements I鈥檝e made represent the worse case scenario of dealing with metal mouthpieces, IMO. That is, at least, until the State of California publishes additional guidance on surviving the lead exposure nightmare we are faced with on SOTW.
 

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You need to determine the best choice for YOU. I find it incredible that you still consider replating your mouthpiece and using it. If I were similarly concerned, I would first act to protect myself against harm.

Please also include your concerns regarding your metal mouthpieces when you offer them for sale. If you truly believe they constitute a health risk, you should not sell them knowing that they will pose a similar risk to anyone else.
That is correct that I have still not determined the best choice for me, other than to not play on bare brass mouthpieces. I would be pleased if I could plate my bare brass mouthpieces to render them safe. I am going to look into the safety of that a bit more. Obviously nothing is 100% safe in any context, but plating may significantly reduce the risk. Or it may not. I am not suggesting that I know the answer.

Certainly I believe bare brass mouthpieces carry significant risk (erring on the side of caution). I have no plans to sell any of them, but if I did, I would do the responsible thing (just as most mouthpiece makers now do). My whole point of posting here is to call attention to something that I think needs more attention, for the benefit of others. Again, I have seen lead poisoning in action and it is serious, and it takes very little exposure. When I volunteered at my kids' school one day, I ended up helping a kid who seemed overall a bit disoriented and had some obvious challenges. I later found out why. This is not the same type of exposure, but it was very little exposure, and I find lead scary.

I have appreciated yours and others' discussion to try to figure out a viewpoint on this issue that makes sense. I also feel that we should support and respect the artisans who have taken on the challenge of making mouthpieces. I think we all recognize the value of their work in this pursuit. I am sure they are doing whatever they think is right, and I have the greatest respect for their contributions.
 

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Edit: I just looked back at the study and I think the way you phrased this might be a bit misleading.
Nope. I'm good with how it's put. Cutting operations bring the lead to the surface. I suppose you can say refacing doesn't involve cutting, but I'd err on the side of caution here.

I don't have any children, but frankly I'd be more worried about the cleanliness/hygiene of the mouthpiece than about trace amounts of lead...
Nah, you'd worry about everything. Especially the first one. As for cleanliness and hygiene... think of it as building immunities.
 

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The 鈥渃utting鈥 studied in the paper was most likely high speed machining operations. Cooling liquid is usually used during machining but the part gets pretty hot. Sanding used in refacing may do similar things but this was not what was studied.

New to me was the claim quoted above (post #36) that lead was also found after plating.
 

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The 鈥渃utting鈥 studied in the paper was most likely high speed machining operations. Cooling liquid is usually used during machining but the part gets pretty hot. Sanding used in refacing may do similar things but this was not what was studied.

New to me was the claim quoted above (post #36) that lead was also found after plating.
How is lead detectable on a brass mouthpiece that has been fully encapsulated in silver and then gold plating? Lead is not present in either of the plating processes.
 

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How is lead detectable on a brass mouthpiece that has been fully encapsulated in silver and then gold plating? Lead is not present in either of the plating processes.
Without specifying levels or testing methods, we really can't say. First, there are detectable lead levels in the atmosphere so, given a sufficiently sensitive test, you could possibly detect some trace amount of lead on a surface just from atmospheric exposure. Second, if it's a used mouthpiece, there's the possibility that it comes from lead dissolved in condensate that leaked into the mouthpiece from the inside of the neck/leadpipe. Third, they may have used a spot test that, as I reported here, has a very high false positive rate. Lead diffusing across the plating would seem to me to be among the least likely possibilities, but I'd defer to the materials science experts here.
 

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How is lead detectable on a brass mouthpiece that has been fully encapsulated in silver and then gold plating? Lead is not present in either of the plating processes.
Well, at least in theory lead could migrate along grain boundaries of the silver and gold plating to the surface, through diffusion. The plating coatings are very thin. To what extent that actually happens is a question for quantitative testing.

Similarly, the extent to which lead - in a form that is biologically accessible - is present on the surface of an unplated brass mouthpiece is a question for quantitative testing, which would have to be done on a sample of pieces covering various cases such as machining, sandpaper refacing, etc., as well as the various different manufacturers' alloys.

And finally, the extent to which lead in a biologically accessible form present on the surface of a mouthpiece is actually taken up by the body in the course of playing it (not eating it; not heating it and breathing the vapors; not machining it into fine dust and rubbing your hands and eyes with it), is also subject to quantitative testing.

I have not seen any quantitative results in this thread yet, though I might have missed it. So I conclude the whole thing is speculation. If the biological uptake threshold for hazard is in the ppm, and actual lead uptake is in the ppb or ppt, then you don't need to worry. It's impossible to achieve zero exposure to anything.
 

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Without specifying levels or testing methods, we really can't say. First, there are detectable lead levels in the atmosphere so, given a sufficiently sensitive test, you could possibly detect some trace amount of lead on a surface just from atmospheric exposure. Second, if it's a used mouthpiece, there's the possibility that it comes from lead dissolved in condensate that leaked into the mouthpiece from the inside of the neck/leadpipe. Third, they may have used a spot test that, as I reported here, has a very high false positive rate. Lead diffusing across the plating would seem to me to be among the least likely possibilities, but I'd defer to the materials science experts here.
When I was a sports shooter back in the day, I used to shoot over 1000 rounds of ammunition (per week) that contained lead in the primer, the bullet, and God knows where else. I was also refacing brass mouthpieces regularly. I had a lead test at the advice of a physician and it came back just below whatever threshold doctors assign for elevated. If my lead levels were 鈥渘ormal鈥 or 鈥渘ot elevated,鈥 I don鈥檛 see how someone could have elevated levels from playing a saxophone mouthpiece that contains trace amounts of lead. I suppose it鈥檚 an empirical question and only people getting tested will reveal the answer.
 

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A thousand rounds a day?

Note to self: Dont argue with Ben.....
That was per week, but I dry fired for several hours a week as well. That was in a different life! Doc Tenney used to tease in jest that I shot 9mm while in his day he shot .45ACP. I鈥檓 going back to refacing this brass Dukoff so I can inhale lead dust and lick my fingers when I鈥檓 done. I probably won鈥檛 remember my name tomorrow.
Best, Ben
 

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That was per week, but I dry fired for several hours a week as well. That was in a different life! Doc Tenney used to tease in jest that I shot 9mm while in his day he shot .45ACP. I鈥檓 going back to refacing this brass Dukoff so I can inhale lead dust and lick my fingers when I鈥檓 done. I probably won鈥檛 remember my name tomorrow.
Best, Ben
I shot .45ACP as well - 500-800 rounds a weekend, reloading at night during the week (no white gloves). I used lead fishing weights too.

Ever do a brake job on an older car - back when all brake linings were asbestos?

And what is in McDonald鈥檚 french fries???
 
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