Re: lead in tank? reply

Lead poisoning is _not_ an urban myth. I refer you to an article which 
appeared in the San Jose Mercury News Sunday, December 17. In this Perspective 
article by Donald Kennedy, he points out how the lead industry (and other big 
pollution-generating industries) has spent millions of dollars trying to 
discredit scientists who have shown dangers of lead poisoning (and other 
environmental degradation) to many forms of life. 

Lead is well-known to be a cumulative toxin with many effects on neurological 
development and function. Exposure commonly occurs through ingestion _or 
inhalation_. The "control freaks using misinformation" applies to the industry 
PR people, not to the scientists who have demonstrated dangers in modern life. 
No intelligent person can discount the effects of serious exposures to toxic 
chemicals, including asbestos, lead, and cigarette smoke. I for one would like 
to know if something I'm exposed to can harm me! I work with many toxic 
chemicals, but knowing the dangers allows me to take precautions against 
harmful exposure. 

It took many many years for people to recognize that mercury exposure in 
milliners was leading to neurological damage ("mad hatters"), but today the 
effects of mercury exposure are well-known and accepted, and we as a society 
consider it important to avoid such exposure. There are many other examples of 
people becoming ill and dying due to exposure to toxic substances, and in many 
cases instituting exposure control measures has led to dramatic improvements 
in health of those exposed.

Yes, there are varying levels of toxicity for different elements. The most 
serious problems with lead poisoning are, as you say, through ingestion by 
young children whose neurological systems are developing. But doctors leave 
bullets in people when they would be more harmed by the surgery than by 
leaving the bullet in place. This is a _choice_ which takes many factors into 
consideration and does not indicate that there is no problem whatsoever with 
leaving this source of lead in the body. Whenever possible, bullets _are_ 
removed from gunshot victims.

Now having said all that, I'll point out that pure lead metal is quite 
resistant to corrosion by water. But lead plumbing is no longer used because 
lead does leach into the water. Since you control pH and salts in the aquarium,
 there may be little problem with lead plant anchors. Fish will, however, be 
exposed to (through ingestion, i.e. gastric juices) some level of lead; 
whether this is a toxic level will vary with characteristics of the water and 
the species of fish. If you don't like the metal loops on your plants, replace 
them with paper clips, twist-ties, or some other anchors. And please, wipe off 
the neck of your wine bottles and wash your hands after removing the lead