QUESTION: "white metal" miniature figurines made of lead/tin, how can I use them safely? 19 Mar 2008 NSW, Australia
Well Iím wondering how safe are "white metal" miniatures like figurines. cause I was looking to buy figures for a game but the company that makes them no longer makes them. I went onto a website that is for that game and the people in the forum all suggested this Australian site. well I contacted the site and asked them what their products are made of since in the pics they are metal well they tell me the products are made of "white metal" to be more clear lead/tin so I was always told any lead is bad for you. well I was wondering how safe is it and is it still worth getting the figurines and if I do how could I make them more safer?
ANSWER: 19 Mar 2008
It is possible to have non-leaded "white metal" (see: New Lead Free Metal Miniatures which says Citadel designers in 1997 came up "with a "white metal" casting material that has all the qualities and properties we need to cast Citadel miniatures and yet is totally lead free!") but I guess the figurines you are thinking of buying are not in that category.
According to Wikipedia (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_metal): "The white metals are any of several light-colored alloys used as a base for plated silverware, ornaments or novelties, as well as any of several lead-base or tin-base alloys used for things like bearings, jewellery, miniature figures, fusible plugs, some medals and metal type.
"Some of the metals that make up a white metal alloy are antimony, tin, lead, cadmium, bismuth, and zinc. Not all of these metals are found in all white metal alloys but are mixed to achieve a desired goal or need." As to how to use leaded miniature figurines safely, please see our fact sheet: "Metal Miniatures: How To Minimise The Risks Of Lead Poisoning & Contamination"
You will always know if you are using leaded consumer products safely if you have your blood lead level tested regularly (at least every 5 years - ask your doctor) and you always have a blood lead level below 2 micrograms per decilitre.
All the best
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