Lead Poisoning: A Problem for Adults



Lead exposure is not the problem it used to be.  Physicians and researchers believed that low-level lead exposures only posed a health hazard for children who had blood lead concentrations of 10 μg/dl (micrograms per deciliter of blood) or more.  New studies, however, have shown that these low blood lead concentrations are hazardous for adults as well. Adults with blood lead concentrations as low as 10 μg/dl are at high risk for high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.  The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) has recently decided to consider blood levels of 10μg/dl in adults as “elevated” – the same standard as that for children.
Adults are exposed to lead the same way children are.  For example, living in an older home with peeling lead paint can be a source of exposure. The work environment is another source. AFT members who are involved with any paint removal projects such as those on outdoor metal structures – playground equipment, etc. may be exposed if the old paint contained lead. Mechanics in school bus garages who handle old batteries may be at risk of lead exposure as well. If you perform work that may put you at risk for lead exposure, you should follow the prescribed OSHA requirements for protective equipment and work practices.
AFT recommends that you consult your physician about having a blood-lead test if you have ever had a job that involved any of the following:
♣      old paint removal;
♣      manufacture of bronze and brass   products such as plumbing fixtures;
♣      demolition and maintenance of outdoor metal structures; and
♣      battery manufacturing and recycling.
Please contact the AFT health and safety program at 800/238-1133, ext.,5677, if you need more information about lead exposure and protection.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

CSTE Leads Effort to Improve Blood Lead Reporting
Studies show that blood lead levels as low as 10 ug/dl contribute to an
elevation in blood pressure and attendant health risks, including stroke. Low
blood levels also are associated with an increase in mortality from heart
disease, decreased kidney function and changes in cognition.  www.cste.org

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