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What is lead?

Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment.  Although it can be found in small amounts in the earth’s crust, most lead comes from man-made activities such as manufacturing and mining.  

In the past, lead has been used in gasoline, paint, metals, ammunition, and batteries. In recent years, because of its hazardous health effects, lead has been banned or significantly reduced in these products. 

What are the symptoms and health effects of lead poisoning?

Most individuals exposed to lead have no symptoms. However, some  may experience tiredness, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Higher or chronic exposures can lead to more serious health effects like loss of memory, tremors, seizures, reproductive health issues, and even death.

What are the common sources of lead for adults? 

  • Exposure at work in manufacturing, construction, or home remodeling/painting
  • Hobbies such as hunting, fishing, stained glass, or furniture restoration

Can lead affect an unborn baby? 

Yes, lead can be found in the blood and bones of pregnant women who have been exposed to lead hazards. Lead can then cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus. Lead can also be passed to a newborn infant through breast feeding. Immediate effects can include miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight.     

Should I be tested for lead?

If you work with lead or are knowingly exposed to lead by other means then talk to your doctor about having your blood tested for lead.

What is considered a safe level of lead in my blood?

Lead has no nutritional value and there is no safe level of lead in a person’s blood. You have the right to be removed from lead exposure if your blood lead level reaches or exceeds 60 µg/dL or if the average of your last three blood lead levels is at or above 50 µg/dL. Medical removal continues until two consecutive blood lead levels are below 40 µg/dL. During your medical removal, your employer must maintain your earnings, seniority, and other employment rights and benefits as though your work has not been changed. This removal can be continued for 18 months.