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Pencils never contained lead.

This may come as a shock to some people but lead pencils do not contain any lead.  Never did. The “lead” actually is a mixture of graphite and clay; the more graphite, the softer and darker the point.  The mistake in terminology can be traced back to the ancient Romans who actually used pieces of lead to draw lines on papyrus scrolls in order to guide them in writing with a tiny brush called a pencillus.  Lead is a very soft metal and pieces readily rub off.  The Romans never realized that lead was potentially toxic but today we know that even tiny amounts ingested can result in poisoning.  So it is a good thing we do not have “lead” pencils for children to chew on.

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