# Toxicity of metallic lead (Pb)

I have some pieces of lead ($\ce{Pb}$) at home. I keep them in a box in the closet and never touch them.

• Can it be harmful?
• Should I throw them away?

I would like to keep them, but I am not certain about their toxicity.

• – getafix Dec 3 '16 at 9:17
• Yes they can be harmful if you lick them, or if you handle them and then handle your food. Otherwise, feel free to keep them. There are no toxic gases, that's for sure. – Ivan Neretin Dec 3 '16 at 9:25
• Are children around? – mcocdawc Dec 3 '16 at 22:00
• @mcocdawc No, we don't have any children at home. I've packed them in a box and are out of reach, I've found them at a mine, and they are really beautiful and metallic, there isn't any dust and they are like small clods. – BugHunter Dec 4 '16 at 8:52
• @Aref You packed your children in a box? ;-) – matt_black Dec 8 '16 at 9:53

Metallic lead is very low risk.

Lead compounds are fairly poisonous: they slowly build up in the body and cause many harmful effects. But lead metal is very inert and you would need to do something fairly risky with it to create much likleihood of generating dangerous lead compounds.

Don't eat it, for example. Don't put it in contact with food (especially acidic foods which can solubilise lead). But normal handling should not be a problem.

Lead is so inert that it has been used to pipe clean water supplies to people for most of history (or at least the parts of history where somebody had access to clean water). This is safe unless the water supply is particularly acidic and leaches lead from the pipes.