LEAD Dust In Construction

By Robert Robillard on Dealing With Dust

LEAD Dust In Construction:  A Serious Health Hazard

Lead poisoning is a serious heath problem and is more common today than most people know.  An April 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine included an article concluding lead levels even below the 10 micrograms can be harmful, especially in children. The researchers wrote, “Our findings suggest that considerably more U.S. children are adversely affected by environmental lead than previously estimated.”

Lead has been used in paint for many years.   Besides residential homes lead has been used on bridges, water tanks and steel structures.

Banned from residential use in the 1970’s most homes built before that time still have lead paint in them.

How Lead Affects the Body:

Contamination from lead usually comes from dust, fumes or contaminated water.   Lead can enter the body by handling contaminated objects such as tools, construction material and also by swallowing the lead dust.

Young children are extremely susceptible to lead poisoning.

Lead Poisoning Symptoms:

Most symptoms are not noticeable at first or are thought to be something else, some syptoms of lead poisoning are:

  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Metallic taste
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Uneasy stomach
  • Poor appetite
  • Reproductive problems

Overtime Lead Poisoning Can Cause:

  • Brain damage
  • Blood, nerve, kidney and reproductive damage
  • Memory loss
  • Tiredness
  • Emotional problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Coma
  • Death

Steps To Protect You From Lead Dust:

Lead dust contaminates everything in its area.  This means work clothes, surfaces, rugs, etc.   Lead dust can also travel with you on your clothes and transfer onto car seats or at home.

Here are a few safety tips to prevent lead poisoning:

  • Follow EPA guidelines and RRP rules when working with lead materials
  • Use a HEPA ventilation systems and vacuums
  • Use a respirator appropriate for lead dust.  [replace and clean filters as recommended]
  • Keeps the work area clean with a HEPA vacuum and wet cleaning methods.Avoid drinking, eating and smoking in work areas.
  • Always wash hands and face before eating, drinking and smoking.
  • After work shower, wash hair; change into clean clothes, including shoes.

NOTE – The Lead Education and Abatement Design Group Working to eliminate childhood and foetal lead poisoning by the year 2012 and to protect the environment from lead has a really great Child lead poising questionnaire:

Childhood  Lead Poisoning Risk Factor Questionnaire

Photo credit:  the LEAD Group


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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