Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces



  • My grand children were over yesterday. My youngest....four and a half...likes to toot on some of my horns out of the rack. Yesterday was no exception. Then this morning my son sends me an email about this horror story.

    https://www.ceh.org/campaigns/legal-action/current-work/lead-found-brass-mouthpieces-used-musical-instruments/

    And the mouth pieces aren't off brands either. The list is also linked.

    https://www.ceh.org/wp-content/uploads/Brass-Mouthpiece-List-3_5.png

    Here is another site that adds some more detail.

    https://tamararubin.com/2017/01/does-my-childs-trumpet-mouthpiece-contain-unsafe-levels-of-lead/

    I ordered a trumpet and a cornet mouthpiece from Kelly. No lead in plastic.... I think.



  • Hi Niner,
    Great find! Thanks for helping keep us safe.


  • Global Moderator

    @Niner That story came up already once or twice on TM. I've researched further, and found that the CEH research found the lead by boring deep into the core of the mouthpieces, not on the surface, and then in minute quantities. No trumpet player ever has been found to suffer from any il-effects of lead (which, by the way, is easy to detect). CEH has been known to sue companies for supposed breaches of health issues.



  • @barliman2001 It was news to me. I'd never thought much about what went under the nickle plate. If trumpets could be nickle plated brass, I'd have thought that the mouthpieces were likely brass too under the plating. In fact some of the crap mouthpieces that I've sometimes gotten along with a curiosity trumpet will have a mouthpiece so worn the under layer looks brass. Like this Czech example....looks like brass under the about totaled lost finish. Some kind of mixture of brass and something at base?

    I think I'd take my chances with new mouthpieces with possible lead in the mix than put my lips on a brass mouthpiece with missing plated finish.

    czech.jpg


  • Qualified Repair Techs

    Generally most mouthpieces are silver plated brass. While plenty of players have allergic reactions to nickel or even silver or gold, I have yet to hear of an actual case of lead poisoning from a mouthpiece. I’ve also seen plenty of people play on unplated mouthpieces with no ill effects, though my face would be a giant rash. I wouldn’t waste much time worrying about it - I ‘m pretty sure they could catch worse stuff from dirty attic horns or public bathrooms. I would worry more about the grandkids getting their vaccinations and eating their vegetables than from lead poisoning from your mouthpiece that has not yet affected you after years of playing.



  • Mouthpieces I have modified have been free machining (leaded brass) with a lead content up to 3%, I have them silver plated. Raw brass gives an unpleasant taste.

    A search of the British Medical Journal found only one report of assumed Brass Poisoning from brass workers from a foundry prior to WW1.

    A mouthpiece I modified for a friend in a hurry and did not have time to get it plated, she painted the top with nail polish to match her fingernails.

    Regards, Stuart.



  • @flugelgirl said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    I would worry more about the grandkids getting their vaccinations and eating their vegetables than from lead poisoning from your mouthpiece that has not yet affected you after years of playing.


    So true. And vaccinations do not cause autism.



  • @Dr-Mark said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    @flugelgirl said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    I would worry more about the grandkids getting their vaccinations and eating their vegetables than from lead poisoning from your mouthpiece that has not yet affected you after years of playing.


    So true. And vaccinations do not cause autism.

    No but they can cause owies!



  • @Dr-GO said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    No but they can cause owies!


    That's why you keep suckers and small candies. A little something after the owies!



  • @Dr-Mark said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    @Dr-GO said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    No but they can cause owies!


    That's why you keep suckers and small candies. A little something after the owies!

    Nah. We use the candies and suckers to hype up the kids so we can diagnosis ADHD and put them on Ritalin. Requires monthly follow up because this is a controlled substance. That means lots of money for the practice! Candies and suckers are my money makers!



  • This is from Wikipedia:

    To enhance the machinability of brass, lead is often added in concentrations of around 2%. Since lead has a lower melting point than the other constituents of the brass, it tends to migrate towards the grain boundaries in the form of globules as it cools from casting. 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.[10]

    In October 1999 the California State Attorney General sued 13 key manufacturers and distributors over lead content. In laboratory tests, state researchers found the average brass key, new or old, exceeded the California Proposition 65 limits by an average factor of 19, assuming handling twice a day.[11] In April 2001 manufacturers agreed to reduce lead content to 1.5%, or face a requirement to warn consumers about lead content. Keys plated with other metals are not affected by the settlement, and may continue to use brass alloys with higher percentage of lead content.[12][13]

    If California is afraid of brass keys with lead ....well.... it's California. However if the lead goes to the outside of the brass....even under the plating...well....that opens up some crazy questions. Lacquer removal on horns? Note that brassy smell on your hands after playing? Old mouthpieces with the brass showing here and there touching your lips now and then? California brass keys seem small potatoes worry?

    I'd think as long as you don't swallow your mouthpiece you are probably ok. Of course if you swallow your mouthpiece you have a more serious immediate problem to worry about. Wash your hands after playing your finish removed horns....to avoid that stanky smell.



  • @Dr-GO said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    We use the candies and suckers to hype up the kids so we can diagnosis ADHD and put them on Ritalin.


    YES! The promise of sweets will probably jack up the kids better than the actual candies themselves. But seriously, I've seen more kids on ADHD meds that shouldn't be on them than I can count. Almost every time, it was due to screwed up parental skills.
    Possibly parenting skills should be taught in our schools.



  • @Niner said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    I'd think as long as you don't swallow your mouthpiece you are probably ok.


    The more we know!



  • I’m sure I get more lead from my bite on fishing sinkers



  • @djeffers78 said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    I’m sure I get more lead from my bite on fishing sinkers

    In some states lead fishing weights are illegal you know.

    I have friends that melt and cast lead ammunition for both black powder and smokeless powder guns. There are some laws now about shotgun lead pellets and shooting birds being outlawed in favor of steel. However, many a lead pellet has probably inadvertently been swallowed by bird hunters and their families over the years...and hopefully passed through the body like fruit seeds.



  • So I did the grandfatherly thing and ordered a cornet and a trumpet mouthpiece from Kelly. Got the "special" close out colors that came to my door with postage and handling for $40 for the both of them.

    Kelly.jpg

    Then I was looking at ebay and noticed that I could have gotten some plastic mouthpieces from China for a lot less. Like a boatload of them for lots cheaper. Like 20 of them for less than $12. ☹

    ebay.jpg


  • Qualified Repair Techs

    @Niner you shouldn’t feel sad about supporting Kelly first. Family owned business and super nice people who actually make something playable that they use themselves. I met them at NAMM and they were great!



  • @Niner said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    Then I was looking at ebay and noticed that I could have gotten some plastic mouthpieces from China for a lot less. Like a boatload of them for lots cheaper. Like 20 of them for less than $12.


    I'd be wary of putting things against my lips that come from China. Do they have the same health and safety standards as we do in America?
    I don't know if they do when it applies to mouthpieces.



  • @Niner said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    Then I was looking at ebay and noticed that I could have gotten some plastic mouthpieces from China for a lot less. Like a boatload of them for lots cheaper. Like 20 of them for less than $12.

    You don't always get what you pay for but you almost always don't get what you don't pay for.



  • @Kehaulani said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    @Niner said in Lead found in brass horn mouthpieces:

    ...but you almost always don't get what you don't pay for.

    Hmmm... there are at least 11 women that I have"been" with for at least one night that would refute this.😉


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