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Mouthpiece leaching lead?

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15 years 3 months ago #255 by Caroline Lemen
This is a question for anyone with information about the possibility of a horn mouthpiece exposing a player to lead if the plating wears off. I have a student who came back from a local band instrument repair shop with the news that her 2 year old mouthpiece was wearing down and she shouldn't play it because it will expose her to lead. Has anyone ever heard of this, and is it a real danger?

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15 years 2 months ago #256 by Louis Stout, Jr
:) I don't think anyone used lead in their mouthpieces. As far as I know, they are all brass with nickel silver or gold or some other plating. Some people are allergic to brass or nickel, but you don't have to worry about lead. I recently had a mouth piece re-plated because I was getting a brass taste that I didn't like.

Louis Stout :)

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15 years 2 months ago #261 by Dave Harrison
I agree with the above poster. The metal used under the silver plating is brass, which is primarily an alloy of copper and zinc in various proportions. Occasionally other metals are added, such as aluminum or manganeze. There is in fact a leaded brass with lead added in order to improve the machinability of the metal, but it is very unlikely that this alloy would be used in a mouthpiece.

Lead is toxic in trace amounts. Copper is toxic in higher concentrations, but the amount of exposure to copper from a raw brass mouthpiece is probably not significant. Allergic reactions are an issue though, so prolonged contact is not a good idea.

Cheers,
Dave Harrison
(Dr Dave - Disclaimer - I am an emergency physician, not a toxicologist)
Harrison Mouthpieces

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15 years 1 month ago #275 by Kendall Betts
I must respectfully disagree with the above replies. Some mouthpiece manufacturers do use leaded brass as it does machine easier. This results in extended tool life and lower costs. I would be suspect of all inexpensive mass produced mouthpieces and I know one "custom" mouthpiece maker who uses it. We do not use leaded brass at Lawson Horns. Earlier in my career, I knew two pro players who got lead poisoning from mouthpieces with worn plating. Both were using the same stock mouthpiece from a large and reputable horn maker with a famous player's name attached to its products.

My advice: keep your rim plated or use a plastic rim!

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14 years 9 months ago #311 by Louis Stout, Jr
Caroline,

I just got back from a trip to the East lake, Ohio Conn-Selmer factory where I bought a new Holton H176. Anyway, I asked the rep. who was showing me around if there was any lead in their mouthpiece metal. I was told that there is about 3% lead in their mouthpiece brass. HE also said that lead poisoning would be a very slight risk since there was so little lead in the metal. So. I guess that I would have the mouthpiece re-plated just to be extra safe.

Louis Stout :S

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14 years 9 months ago #314 by Martin Künkler
Thanks for that information! I will never buy an american mouthpiece if there is lead in it! Taths unbeliefable...
Normaly, mouthpieces are made of solid brass or cast brass but always without lead. A standard mouthpiece ist silverplated, not nickelplated (may be, some cheapest models from china). If you have an allergie, goldplating will be a solution or use a plastic mouthpiece or a plastic rim.
May be, this will be a good topic for the Horn Call.

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