Lead Danger in Canvas Fillers


New Member
I have heard that lead was a major ingrediant of the fillers traditionally used on canvas canoes.

Can anyone confirm this?

I would hate to think we are exposing ourselves and our families to this serious health hazard while doing restoration work on wood/canvas canoes.

While the old filler and paint are on the canoe there is very little danger from the lead. Its only when you dry sand the paint of filler and make dust would you be exposed to the lead. On a practical level and assuming your jsut working on a few number of boats, the danger is very minimal if you take the basic precautions of using a dust mask, washing off and changing clothes, something that should be done anytime your making dust!
Mixing lead filler by using lead powder is a different story and a lot more precautions are needed.
Unleaded is available

I know this is a touchy subject, so I'll say first that I have used leaded filler on a number of canoes. Rollin is undoubtedly right that, assuming you don't breathe the dust, get it in your mouth or all over your skin you are probably not in danger as the person who applies it wet. The danger is when the dust becomes airborn. My concern is that even if we are careful to protect ourselves, who's to say what will happen down the road when someone else attempts repairs? From this forum we know that inexperienced folks sometimes try some crazy stuff, and its not hard to imagine someone doing some ill- advised and too-deep power sanding without adequate protection. I've decided to go with lead-free filler (been getting mine from Bill Clements) and treated canvas. Probably it won't last as long as canvas filled with lead-based filler, but I explain this to customers at the outset, and most agree. Disposal of old canvas with lead filler is also an environmental question. So far I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping that the lead will stay buried in the landfill forever, and not end up in anyone's drinking water..
Don in Vermont