Many people come to the blog asking if pencil lead is harmful. And wanting to know if you can get lead poisoning from a pencil. So we thought we’d address it briefly.
This concern arises because pencils are commonly called “lead pencils,” which can be misleading.
In this blog post, we will explore the truth behind pencil lead poisoning and answer common questions about the safety of using pencils.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. Is Pencil Lead Poisonous?
For those wondering if pencil lead is poisonous or toxic and if they can get lead poisoning from a pencil?
The answer is ‘No.’ Not possible…not even from a whole box of pencils.
Why not? Because there is no lead in a pencil, you are perfectly safe and cannot die from pencil lead.
Yes, it is called ‘pencil lead,’ but it is graphite, a different substance from Lead.
2. Is Graphite Poisonous?
So the next obvious question is graphite toxic?
Can you get graphite poisoning? Fortunately, the answer again is no graphite is not toxic or poisonous; if it were, all the pencil chewers would be in a spot of bother.
Graphite is not metal but a mineral formed from carbon. To learn more about this, look at our guide on where pencil lead comes from.
3. What Happens if You Eat Pencil Graphite?
You should be ok if you eat pencil graphite (pencil lead). The graphite used in pencils is more or less harmless, as the U.S. National Institute of Health explains on its website.
They discuss the problems you may encounter if you inadvertently swallow pencil lead (graphite).
Basically, you are unlikely to experience any symptoms if you swallow pencil lead or are inadvertently stabbed by a pencil.
At worst, you may experience a mild stomach ache or be sick. But there should be no lasting harm done. If this is severe, it is always worth seeing a doctor.
4. Is Mechanical Pencil Lead Toxic?
The simple answer is no because the Lead in a mechanical pencil is the same as a wooden lead.
It is not lead, but graphite, the only difference being that it is not cased in wood and is a nontoxic substance.
If you want to know more about wooden and mechanical pencils, look at Wooden Pencils Vs. Mechanical Pencils.
5. Is Colored Pencil Lead Toxic?
Colored pencil lead is made from a mixture of pigments and binding agents, unlike regular graphite pencils.
These binding agents may contain potentially harmful chemicals if ingested or exposed for long periods.
Therefore, it is essential to be cautious when using colored pencils and to avoid ingesting or exposing oneself to their Lead.
6. Is There Lead in the Pencils Paint?
In the early days of pencil making, the paint they used to coat the wood would have contained Lead.
Around the 1940s, many manufacturers stopped adding Lead to the paint they were coating their products.
But it was not until 1978 that the U.S. banned Lead in paint, and nearly 15 years later, in 1992, the U.K. finally got around to banning it.
So, getting stabbed with a bit of pencil lead or swallowing some will not give you Lead poisoning.
Of course, there would still be a hole in you from the stabbing, and swallowing bits of wood and other foreign material is a choking hazard and a threat to your digestion.
Probably best to use your pencil for writing.
(On a related note, you cannot get ink poisoning from a pen.)