Reducing Exposure to Lead Dust

Further to a recent article about the success of helping to remove and collect silica dust from employees’ work clothing, JetBlack Safety is committed to assisting companies in reducing their workers’ exposure to respirable metal / mineral dusts, particularly lead.

What are the dangers of lead dust?

Working with lead can affect your health especially if the work being done produces lead dust, fumes or vapour.

This can include:

  • Lead smelting, refining, alloying and casting.
  • Manufacturing and processing lead compounds.
  • Manufacturing of paints and pigments.
  • Recycling of materials containing lead.

How does lead get into the body?

When lead and items containing lead are processed, worked or recovered from scrap or waste they can create lead dust, fumes and vapour. The human body absorbs lead when you:

  • Breathe in this dust
  • Swallow any lead – i.e. if you eat, drink or bite your nails without washing your hands and face.

Lead is not normally absorbed through the skin, although there are some exceptions if handling lead alkyls.  Any lead that is absorbed at work will circulate in the blood, some of which will stay in the body (mainly in bones) for many years without making you ill.

How does lead exposure affect your health?

Lead in the human body can cause:

  • Severe headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains
  • Loss of weight

More serious side effects could be:

  • Kidney damage
  • Nerve and brain damage
  • Infertility

What can your employer do to protect your health at work?

As well as assessing the risk to the health of workers, providing adequate and suitable training, and suitable washing and changing facilities, your employer should also be ensuring there is suitable dust extraction and removal systems in place, and keep this equipment in efficient working order.

What should you do to protect your own health?

  • Use all the equipment provided by your employer and follow instructions for use.
  • Follow good and well tested work practises:
    • Keep your immediate work area as clean and tidy as possible
    • Clear up and get rid of any lead waste at the end of each day/shift
  • Do not take home any protective clothing for washing or cleaning.

How we can help reduce a worker’s exposure to lead dust?

JetBlack Safety’s Personnel Cleaning Booth provides a safe and highly effective means of removing and extracting lead dust quickly and efficiently from workers’ clothing.

Using low pressure, high volume blower-driven air, the Booth is particularly suited for agitating and removing lead dust from employees’ work clothes without the operator having to remove any clothing or PPE equipment – a process which typically takes no longer than 20 seconds.

The JetBlack Safety Cleaning Booth is a free-standing unit incorporating a blower-powered, OSHA compliant cleaning station. The air flow produced (2.52psig/70in.swg) is sufficient to agitate and remove lead dust safely and presents no threat to personal safety, even if airflow is directed directly at human skin.  In other words, it provides a safe alternative to the dangerous, yet frequently employed practice of using compressed air for cleaning down.

In operation, the Booth is typically sited at entry or exit points of critical areas of the plant such as outside control rooms or office areas where lead dust contamination would have potential impact on co-workers or equipment.

All removed dust can be either collected into bags via a stand-alone extraction and filtration unit, or alternatively ducted into an existing extraction system if present.

For full details, please visit the Cleaning Booth product page