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topic 12112

Alternative to lead acetate?


In the inspection of sheetmetal (zinc with clear chromate on steel), often times we come across scratches or rub marks from handling. In the past we have used lead acetate to check for the presence of chromate to determine whether a defect has penetrated to the base metal. However, due to the 'nasty' nature of this chemical, we have discontinued its use. Is there a safer alternative chemical available to check for either the presence of chromate or zinc on steel?

Thad Rosenberg
Redwood Falls, MN, USA


I do not consider myself cavalier about the use of chemicals, but lead acetate is not on my list of nasty chemicals. I went to read the MSDS in case I missed something, but it still seems relatively innocuous to me. Sure, lead is a poison, and causes cancer, but the chemical is quite stable, does not decompose until boiled, does not seem to release lead into the air at room temperature, is not explosive or particularly quick to react. I believe that the MSDS's of the world must now be written so that most metal compounds will appear to be very dangerous, but really don't see any reason to hood this material during normal use in a chemistry laboratory. I would still keep it in a dropper bottle in my shelf of indicator bottles, next the sulfo-orange,phenolphtalein, etc. If you have information that would change my mind, I would like to hear from you. Thank you.

pooky tom pullizi signature
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

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