LEAD ON THE JOB

WHAT EMPLOYEES NEED TO KNOW

Your Lead Test Results

Lead is typically measured with a blood lead test. The amount of lead in your blood stream is called your (Adult) Blood Lead Level or ABLL@. Your test results will contain a number which will look something like A46mg/dL@. This number indicates how much lead is in your blood. In this example, there is 46 micrograms (mg) of lead per deciliter (dL) of blood.

How Lead Affects Your Health

Experts generally agree that an adult blood lead level over 25mg/dL is of concern. If your BLL is greater than 25mg/dL, you may feel fine or you may feel ill. Regardless of how you feel, lead can damage your body. Some of the health effects you might experience and the levels that they may begin to affect you are:

HEALTH EFFECTS BLOOD LEAD LEVEL
Increase in blood pressure, harmful to fetus 15mg/dL.
Headaches 20mg/dL.
Slower reflexes, tiredness, reproductive problems, kidney damage 30mg/dL.
Muscle and joint pains, stomach discomfort, constipation 40mg/dL.
Diarrhea, loss of appetite, anemia, sleep problems 50mg/dL.
Memory problems, mood swings 60mg/dL.
Severe stomach pains 60-80mg/dL.
Brain damage 100mg/dL.
Convulsion, coma, death >100mg/dL.

Understanding the ZPP Test

The ZPP (zinc protoporphyrin) test is another way to determine your past exposure to lead. It is usually done at the same time as the BLL as both tests are required by OSHA for workers exposed to lead. Even if you have a high BLL, the ZPP test may not show results of lead exposure for several months. There are no set ZPP limits for action. Your physician will determine a course of action based on your BLL, ZPP results and health history. Generally, a worker not exposed to lead will have ZPP levels under 50mg/dL.

How Your Lead Exposure can Affect the Health of Others

Lead particles or dust can be brought into your home or car on work clothes and equipment. This is called take home lead, and it can harm anyone exposed to it. Lead poisoning in children is especially dangerous because it can cause learning problems and serious illness. Lead is also a danger for children born to mothers who were exposed to high levels of lead during pregnancy. If you work with lead and young children live or spend time in your home, talk to your doctor about having the children tested. Testing is usually available for free or at reduced cost.  For more detailed information on free or reduced blood lead testing contact your doctor or your local public health department.

Precautions You can Take

  • Eat, drink and smoke only in areas free of lead dust or fumes and only after washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Change into work clothes and shoes before working with lead. Store street clothes in a clean place separate from work clothes. Wash work clothes separately from regular laundry.
  • If a respirator is worn, make sure it is the right one for the work you do. Learn how to wear and take care of it correctly. Beards or mustaches cannot be worn with a respirator.
  • If a ventilation system is used at work, make sure it is turned on and working properly.
  • If possible, shower at the end of the work day before leaving work.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet as good nutrition decreases the amount of lead your body absorbs.

Wyoming Department of Health Lead Project
6101 Yellowstone Road, Ste #510
Cheyenne, WY 82002
1-307-777-6015