Lead, while heavy, is a soft malleable metal. When added to paint, the paint becomes more durable. In other words, lead based paint is like adding a coating of metal to a product. Years ago, lead was added to paint throughout the world for this reason. For example, without lead based paint the Navy ships would have rusted away from the salt water. Today 80% of the lead used in the United States is found in car batteries.
Although lead can leach through the skin, common exposure to lead occurs through inhalation and ingestion. Exposure of lead through the lungs by inhalation allows lead to pass into the blood stream faster than digestion through the stomach. However, both forms of exposure are damaging to health.
Common examples of exposure can occur when cooking or sanding. Sanding lead-based paint can cause lead dust to contaminate a room. This simple activity can expose a child to high levels of lead that can lead to “lead poisoning” which can cause illness and even death. When tested, beans that have been cooked in a ceramic (lead glazed) pot, have been found to contain over 35,000 ppm of lead.
A blood test will report levels of lead found in the blood in microgram per decaliter (ug/dl). Lead exposure can affect a person’s IQ. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) reports that levels of lead at 30 ug/dl begins to affect the reproductive organs and requires employers to perform a medical removal when a person reaches 50 ug/dl of lead. Furthermore, it is reported that brain damage occurs in adults, and even death to children when levels of lead reach 80 ug/dl. Lead is mistaken for iron in the body and passes into organs and settles in the marrow of the bone for life. Skeletons of Spaniards from the 1700s where found with lead in the bones, possibly from lead dishes used on the ships.
When testing, color code test swabs or handheld XRF reading interments are methods not acccepted by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). AdamLabs Inc provides environmental testing of dust, paint, air, and soil. Collected samples are processed in the lab via Atomic Absorption. OSHA does not accept any other means of testing.
For your safety, Adam Labs Inc can provide aid in developing a health and safety plan for lead abatement and on-site monitoring of projects to help implement safe work practice, monitor exposure, and project compliance to conform with lead regulations. Adam Labs, Inc. consultants are certified by the State of California Department of Public Health (DPH).