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ISO: Lead in Vintage Books

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Lead found in vintage books’ ink: Should I be concerned?
I recall the big to-do over lead in toys manufactured in China in the late 2000s, but has there been more regarding lead in old books (bookcovers and pages), especially in children’s books, please? I own many vintage copies of children’s books at home. Some of the bookcovers are slowly deteriorating or disintegrating, becoming powdery. Is there a way to neutralize the lead from the books?


  1. Lead generally isn’t used in printers’ inks, whether letterpress or offset. It wouldn’t be used in papers, either. The deterioration in older papers that you’re talking about is usually due to using low quality paper pulp sources which deteriorate more quickly than alkaline papers. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to preserve these books, and unfortunately, children’s books have usually been printed on poor quality papers because kids use them up. You might search “Brittle Books” to learn more about how acidic papers presented a terrible preservation problem for librarians and libraries for more than half a century. (WWII books being among the worst for paper quality due to wartime rationing.)

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