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NIOSH Compendium Summarizes Findings, Recommendations From Lead Investigators

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
June 7, 2001

A new publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) summarizes 31 investigations in which NIOSH made recommendations to protect workers from potentially harmful job-related exposures to lead. Work settings ranged from bridges and shipyards where lead particles were generated by abrasive blasting, to an Army depot where employees were exposed to lead from solder in repairing night goggles and laser range finders.

The investigations were reported from 1994 to 1999 under NIOSH’s health hazard evaluation program, in which NIOSH responds to requests from workers, worker representatives, or management to evaluate occupational health concerns at individual work sites. The new compendium, “Health Hazard Evaluations: Issues Related to Occupational Exposure to Lead, 1994 to 1999,” provides a concise, handy overview of NIOSH’s findings and recommendations from the individual case reports. It also includes a list of key studies, textbooks, and standards for preventing job-related lead exposure.

Results from health hazard evaluations provide employers and workers with practical suggestions for addressing concerns at those individual sites. The results also provide NIOSH and other researchers with new information for assessing and solving similar concerns at other workplaces.

Findings from the 31 investigations illustrate that:

  • Workers may be at risk of potentially hazardous exposures anywhere lead is present on the job, not just in traditional settings like shipyards and battery manufacturing plants. For example, the NIOSH investigations confirmed worker lead exposures in a remodeling project where old paint was sanded from a historic house, and at a hospital radiation laboratory where radiation-shielding molds were made.
  • Workers’ families may also be at risk from lead dust or particles inadvertently carried home on the worker’s clothing or skin, or from lead materials that are used in some home-based businesses such as electronic component repair.
  • Often, lead exposures can be significantly reduced through simple, inexpensive measures, such as basic improvements in ventilation and use of good work practices.

Copies of “Health Hazard Evaluations: Issues Related to Occupational Exposure to Lead, 1994 to 1999,” DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-113, are available from the NIOSH toll-free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674). The publication also is available on the NIOSH web site, .