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QUESTION: Zinc map drawer from 1940's, could this be a lead hazard?  30 Jan 2008 Victoria, Australia

Dear Lead Group,

We have a map drawer from 1940's England with a broad top made from a metal we were told was zinc (the metal is pale gray in color and will mark paper under hard contact.) Our two year old frequently plays around and on this metal surface - could this contact be potentially harmful? From what I understand lead is a danger in the zinc smelting process, but can the resulting zinc be a significant source of lead (or hazardous itself)? I would appreciate any guidance you can give me.


Coleman Polhemus

Ps Your website is very effective - thorough but calm.

ANSWER: 05 May 2009

Dear Coleman,

We deeply apologize for the delay in response to your question. We had a lack of staff who answer the incoming e-mails. Most probably, there is lead in the zinc of the drawer top especially if there is a change in colour or there is dust coming off of it. If I had answered this earlier I would have advised you to check your 2-year old for the blood lead level and I still think that you should do so because kids below the age of 5 are quite vulnerable. In order to do so you just need to visit your family doctor and ask him for a blood lead test. It would also be a good idea if you can place the drawer some place where your child will not be able to play around it. Again, sorry for the delay and thanks for the remark about our website. We wish you and your family all the best.


Iman Hegazi MBBS, MD. Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Volunteer

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