Kids Corner

Are Lead Pencils Harmful for Children?


Graphite in Pencils

Unlike pencils of olden days, modern "lead" pencils don't contain lead. Pencils use a carbon-based substance called graphite. Though graphite has many of the same physical properties as lead, it is not toxic. It's not a heavy metal, so the body can easily break it down and dispose of it. Unless the pencil is coated with a lead-based paint, getting lead poisoning from a pencil is virtually impossible. The toxicity of pencils and other consumer products are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which helps ensure pencils are safe and toxin-free.


Chewing pencils remains dangerous without the threat of lead poisoning. Sharp pencils in the mouth can cut your mouth. Sucking on objects could cause dental problems later in life. Do not choke on part of the pencil or the eraser. If swallowed, a pencil can damage the gastrointestinal tract and a surgical abstraction might be necessary. In the classroom, pencils can be covered with germs and if you are chewing such pencils in class, you are more likely to catch colds or the flu. Additionally, pencils can be coated with harmful substances. Avoid putting pencils or any other nonfood objects in your mouths.