Report finds OSHA Lead Standard inadequate

December 5, 2012

Washington – OSHA’s general industry Lead Standard (1910.1025) does not adequately protect workers from a variety of health problems, including those related to the nervous system, kidneys and heart, according to a new report from the National Research Council.

At the request of the Department of Defense, an NRC committee examined whether the current OSHA standard protects against health risks from lead exposure among firing range personnel, who are recurrently exposed to lead through handling of ammunition, maintenance of ranges and inhalation of lead dust caused by gunfire.

After examining evidence from various studies that found several health problems can result from blood-lead levels as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood, the committee concluded the current OSHA limit of 40 micrograms of lead is too high for both firing range employees and all other workers covered by OSHA’s general industry standard. Additionally, due to the association between air concentrations and blood-lead levels, the committee believes OSHA’s limit of 50 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air is likewise inadequate.

NRC is a part of the National Academies, an independent nonprofit organization that produces reports to help form policy.