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Brass Poisoning?


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beel40
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:57 am    Post subject: Brass Poisoning? Reply with quote

Hi-
I remember reading posts on brass poisoning a long while ago and have a question about stripping a horn.

The other day a middle school student came up to show me his horn. It was a yamaha student model and the lacquer was completely removed. The kid let me play it and WOW, what a sound. I could have played that horn all day. So, recently I purchased a beater Yamaha and thought I would strip it. Is brass poisoning a factor when stripping a horn? I don't know a lot about this subject except for what I have read about mouthpieces that have lost plating, contact with the lips, etc..

Thanks in advance!

Bill Cryderman
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AJCarter
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have three horns that are stripped, and play at least 5 hours a day. I play more during the summer, and sweat more. I guess my story is, I'm fine. I wouldnt put raw brass on my lips though, I seem the think i would absorb it quicker through my lips.
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DH
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also have used raw brass horns (one a recital last week) with no ill effects. I also have a brass horn mouthpiece I use when teaching horn, and after having it for 40 years, it's been no problem that I know of (could I play higher and louder if I WASN'T exposed to this brass horn? We'll never know!!)

I think in most cases this is an individual reaction....
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Don Herman rev2
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some people are less sensitive to it due to body chemistry, and some deny it even exists. Having seen the effects and read an article or two, I will not use a raw brass horn. Rather than rehash the debate, I'll try to point out a few things imo:

1. The primary cause of brass poisoning is inhalation, which normally occurs only when working the brass (grinding, buffing, etc.) Absorption is fairly low in normal handling, and of course the transfer medium medium (sweat, liquid, etc.) has a lot to do with it. I would most certainly not use a raw brass mouthpiece.

2. Brass poisoning, i.e. the transfer of metal into your system where it ends up in the liver and elsewhere, is different than an allergic reaction to brass (copper/zinc). It is a chronic condition with long-term consequences, unlike an allergic reaction that will go away (eventually) when the source of exposure is removed.

3. Newer horns use an epoxy-based lacquer instead of the old nitrocellulose and are much harder to remove. IMO, you are more likely to suffer from the stripper than the brass itself during the stripping process, unless you decide to use some sort of buffing wheel on the horn. Do it outdoors or in a very well-ventilated place and don't pour the residue down the sink. Rubber gloves and a good respirator (a face mask, one that seals well and uses cartridges, not a simple dust mask) are recommended (not that all that many of us actually use them, but that's another issue).

For every horror story about brass poisoning there are many from folk who have had their horns in the raw for years with no problem. If you let the brass oxidize (to a nice brown patina), it tends to seal itself and that will help.

I must throw out my usual comment that removing the lacquer may change the sound of the horn slightly, but it's probably more due to whatever extra feedback we hear than any difference out front. The bell still controls the bulk of how a trumpet sounds.

FWIWFM - Don (let the debate begin, again)
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beel40
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the helpful comments!! TH is a great resource.
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Crazy Finn
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking as someone who knows an individual with multiple chemical sensitivity, it is not something to be taken lightly. I would avoid any instances which could lead to this condition or any sensitivity to something you deal with regularly.

As was mentioned above, the strong chemicals that would allow you to strip the lacquer are far more toxic to your health than raw brass is. I wouldn't deal with them for any reason.

Whether you will become sensitive to brass or to other chemicals is something that you won't know until it happens. You could be fine for the time being and then manifest itself a few months or years in the future. Toxins build up in the body as they are absorbed from our environment. After a time, problems could manifest themselves as headaches or dizziness or neurological problems. Exposing oneself voluntarily by stripping lacquer or apply toxic pesticides and herbicides is a sure way to increase you absorption of such chemicals.
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Pocket Monkeys
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hogwash!I've been playing on a raw brass Bb as my main axe since 1993 and I've never seen negative djkcbiu uc wiu ciwce aCOJK;J C ;KJDB C jcfbnjnokjncwonkvc ojncodin cnodjkncodkc codsjkcnc cdjkscn csodkcn csdkcnsdo csdkcnokinc oknjcosdin sdkonc dsocnc dslcknc dclkn sdlcknc sdlcknldkcn dslcknc clskdncoirncs slknc dslknclskdcokncs slkcnlknc at all!
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Crazy Finn
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Playing on a raw brass horn is PROBABLY not a big deal.

Using extremely toxic chemicals to make your own raw brass horn is.

The choice ... and consequences are yours.
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etc-etc
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don Herman is completely right about brass dust inhalation. This is also possible when polishing your raw brass horn (or even a brass bottom mute).

What makes the matter worse is lead (Pb), which can be present in small amounts in the brass, to improve mechanical properties. That is probably the second main reason why playing on raw brass mouthpieces is a no-no (the first reason is that you do not need ingestion of Cu and Zn, either).
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lmf
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pocket Monkeys wrote:
Hogwash!I've been playing on a raw brass Bb as my main axe since 1993 and I've never seen negative djkcbiu uc wiu ciwce aCOJK;J C ;KJDB C jcfbnjnokjncwonkvc ojncodin cnodjkncodkc codsjkcnc cdjkscn csodkcn csdkcnsdo csdkcnokinc oknjcosdin sdkonc dsocnc dslcknc dclkn sdlcknc sdlcknldkcn dslcknc clskdncoirncs slknc dslknclskdcokncs slkcnlknc at all!


PocketMonkeys,

Now that was funny!

Best wishes,

Lloyd
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Oncewasaplayer
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, here's a dumb question maybe. Aren't horns raw brass inside the tubing? When brass horns are plated and/or lacquered, isn't that all done on the exterior of the horn?
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Don Herman rev2
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, but (a) we don't normally touch the inside of the tubing and (b) we don't usually inhale through the horn. Usually... But, see post from Pocket Monkeys above.
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Capt.Kirk
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is like peanut butter allergy they say a lot of people have it yet my son's school serves peanut butter and jelly sandwich's at least once a week and no kid in the last 50 years has ever had an allergic reaction at any of the elementary,middle or H.S.! I think raw brass is the same thing sure it can happen but no one has actually known anyone that it has happened too! SO it is something to be aware of not to worry about. I once had a plane I was flying lose electrical and air powered instruments and a drain valve on one tank went bad and was leaking fuel rapidly. Now do you have any idea what the odd's are of all those problems clustering all at once in one regularly maintained College Flight School program's aircraft????? that was 15 years ago and I have flown all kinds of Jet's and Turbo Prop's and I have yet to have anything else major happen and probably never will. When I get into an aircraft after preflighting it I do not assume that things are going to start failing left and right etc......I think that it is almost pandemic that people anymore are doing all their planing around fear of what if's!!!!! I am not sure when all the fear mongering entered our culture but it is really screwing up people and their decision making because anytime you make a decision based around fear you will almost always make a bad decision in the long run. Chance has almost always favored the bold notice I did not say brash ignorant uneducated risk taker!!!LOL Striping the Epoxy off your student Yamaha should not provoke a fear response it is not like you cutting into a Bach Strad that Vincent Bach built with his own hands!

Get a gallon of Aircraft remover or some other strong solvent based striper. Citris strippers and green none solvent types will not remove the stuff Yamaha use's it takes them two hours of traveling in a white soupy mixture along with electricity to charge the particles to put that finish on.
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Don Lee
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Capt.Kirk wrote:
It is like peanut butter allergy they say a lot of people have it yet my son's school serves peanut butter and jelly sandwich's at least once a week and no kid in the last 50 years has ever had an allergic reaction at any of the elementary,middle or H.S.!


You know, I ignore most of your posts, but I just had to respond to this latest bit of nonsense.

When I was a kid, no one I knew had peanut allergies. But for whatever reason, (and no good Captain, it is not a government conspiracy) many kids nowadays do. How do I know this? Because my daughter and my nephew both carry epi (epinephrine) pens and both have had to be taken by ambulance to the emergency room because of a reaction to nuts.

So stop with your "expert" opinions on all things under the sun. I am glad your son doesn't have a nut allergy, but please don't be so callous to suggest others' life threatening conditions are non-existent.


Don Lee
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Don Herman rev2
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And, brass poisoning is not an allergy. Look up the MSDS and check with your doctor.
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jkarnes0661
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My day job is as a molecular biology PhD student who studies cancer so I'll throw my 2c and limited knowledge into the mix.

Long term metal toxicities are one of those things that can be difficult to measure objectively. The experimental evidence, however, suggests that cumulative exposure to toxic metals over the course of a lifetime can cause significant health issues.

No one I know would suggest that raw brass exposure alone would cause any health problems (at least the exposure from playing a raw brass horn, dust is another issue entirely), however, it will contribute, along with all the other stuff we inhale, touch, and eat, to disease development in the long run.

My take on the whole raw brass thing has been to make my horns have plated or lacquered valve blocks but not to worry about the leadpipe or bell. The main toxicity issue rises from sweat picking up metal from the horn and then being reabsorbed by your skin. It then gets into your blood stream and accumulates in the liver, lymph nodes, and a few other places I can't remember. I tend to only sweat on the inside of my hands where they touch the valve block, not on the outside where they contact the bell and leadpipe so I only worry about the valves.

Long term exposure to low levels of toxic metals can cause chronic inflammation as well as damage to DNA, both causes of cancer.

Just my 2c, and for a real medical opinion talk to an MD or, better yet, a toxicologist.
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laurie
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all
This may help answer a few questions....
www.olinbrass.com/resources/msds/MSDS%20Alloys/msds_b05.pdf

Cheers
Laurie
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Don Herman rev2
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laurie -- I fixed the link (needed the "20" added for the space). Olin lays out the impact of dust pretty clearly and it can seem a bit scary. Typical for metal poisoning, however, and that's something almost impossible to cure once you've accumulated enough to cause symptoms. Olin also lists their MSDS' for a number of alloys on the page just up -- see

http://www.olinbrass.com/resources/msds/Pages/Alloys.aspx

Olin does not list the solid form as hazardous. Now, the catch is that Olin's sheet assumes normal handling and not long-term exposure to solid brass, like when we play a horn for years. The Navy has (or did, I did not look for it again) an MSDS that lists brass as toxic in all forms (including solid) with long-term exposure, plus the dire warnings about dust and fumes. Think brass control wheels, levers, and valves ship-board that are exposed to salt water, sweat, etc. and see a lot of handling. The MSDS, or a study they did or funded (I forget which), does say reactions vary widely among the personnel tested. I prefer to not take the chance, but as we have seen in this thread some do not seem affected by it. Me, I tend to think that if the dust is hazardous, chances are we are absorbing just a little when we handle a raw brass horn, and as I said prefer to not take the risk.

YMMV - Don
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laurie
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don
Thanks for fixing the link. I posted it hoping that it may answer some questions for those following this thread. And that it may prompt some to dig a little deeper.
Ive worked with metals, surface coatings and chemicals all of my working life. I wont allow my students (I teach at a Technical College) or anyone else in my classrooms or work shops to touch anything without P.P.E
A major part of my job is to provide O.H.S training and education to people involved in the metals/surface coating industry.
I dont own a raw brass horn. 'Nuff said
Cheers
Laurie
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houdini1313
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've already seen some great replies but I'll add my two cents. Brass poisoning is the main reason most drum corps require members to wear gloves when handling horns. Unless you're planning to be in extreme conditions, with lots of sun, sweat, and other harsh factors for your horn, you should be fine. I know guys who have raw brass horns and love them. Only problem with raw brass I'd say is a raw brass mouthpiece.
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