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Workplace exposure

Avoid lead exposure

June 1, 2013

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According to NIOSH, workers can be exposed to lead through fumes (produced when metal is being heated or soldered) or dust (produced when metal is being cut or when lead paint is sanded or removed with a heat gun). Workers who may be exposed to lead fumes or dust include those in the battery manufacturing, construction, plastic manufacturing, steel welding and glass manufacturing industries.

Health effects of prolonged lead exposure can include abdominal pain, constipation and depression, NIOSH warns. Additionally, workers with prolonged exposure to lead may be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and reduced fertility. Acute levels of lead exposure can result in death. To help avoid lead exposure, NIOSH recommends the following:

  • Work in well-ventilated areas.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Do not eat or drink in areas where lead-containing products are processed.
  • Use an effective lead removal product to clean your hands.

Talk with your employer to see if routine blood-lead level testing is available. If not, talk with your doctor about having this test performed.

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