Pencil Lead (Graphite)

What is it?
Symptoms
First Aid
Safety Tips
 

Two pencilsWhat is pencil lead?

Pencil lead is made of the mineral graphite. Graphite is not poisonous if you swallow it, but it can be a choking hazard.

Puncturing your skin with a pencil is not poisonous either, but can lead to infection.

Pencil lead is not made of the metal lead that causes lead poisoning.

What happens if someone swallows pencil lead?

The person will be fine. Swallowing part of a pencil will not cause any symptoms. Swallowing a large enough piece may make the person choke or gag.

What happens if someone punctures their skin with pencil lead?

The person will not have any symptoms from the pencil lead, but they may get a skin infection if the area is not properly cared for.

What should I do if someone has swallowed pencil lead?

In most cases, a little bit of water to rinse out the taste is all the person needs.

If the person is coughing or throwing up, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.

What should I do if someone has punctured their skin with pencil lead?

Pull out the pencil lead if it is sticking out and wash the puncture wound with soap and water.

If you have questions, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511. The poison center can also tell you in what cases you should see a doctor or other health care provider.

Even though pencil lead is nontoxic, pencils can still present a choking hazard. Keep pencils and other small parts out of the reach of young children who may put things in their mouth.

Last Updated: Tuesday October 4th 2016