Lead

Lead is toxic and can cause many acute and chronic health effects. Lead can affect the nervous system, reproductive system, blood, kidneys and cause digestive problems, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.

Before using lead-containing materials, investigate alternatives to using lead or changing a process to avoid its use. Lead is found in many forms and can be very hazardous when inhaled as a dust or fume, or accidentally ingested after contact directly or with contaminated surfaces. Lead is highly regulated because of its hazards, and its use must be managed to ensure the lowest potential exposure. Key management elements for the three lead material types are given below and detailed in the EH&S focus sheets:

Lead-containing building materials

The most common lead-containing material in buildings is lead-based paint in older buildings built before 1978. Other lead-containing building materials may include; roofing and pipework, solder in plumbing and electrical, mortar in brick and stonework in older buildings, glazing, and lead glass.

Procedures must be in place to monitor its condition and address the following:

  • Inform building managers and occupants of the presence of lead-based paint and lead in other building materials; and to not disturb it, and report if damaged.
  • Manage construction and maintenance activities so that work does not cause lead exposures to workers doing the work or building occupants.
  • Conduct lead abatement projects according to regulations and inform building occupants.

Lead-containing chemicals/products

Shops, makerspaces, and some labs may use lead-containing products such as solder, or work with lead-containing items in their work. Common lead-containing chemicals used in UW labs, in small quantities, include lead oxide, lead chloride, lead nitrate, lead acetate and lead carbonate. Shops and labs need to:

  • Register the chemical/product in the MyChem inventory and submit SDS.
  • Develop an SOP and/or JHA for the chemical/product to ensure safe handling, use, storage, and disposal as hazardous waste.
  • Train employees on lead hazards and SOPs and JHAs. Ensure proper labeling and signage.
  • Ensure lead use in well ventilated system or area. Provide personal protective equipment as needed.
  • Use safe work practices and clean in work areas to avoid contamination of surfaces.

Metallic lead

Researchers, medical personnel, scuba divers and others who use metallic lead as shielding for radiation sources, weights, and other applications need to:

  • Register the metallic lead in the MyChem inventory and submit SDS.
  • Develop an SOP and/or JHA for the metallic lead to ensure safe handling, use, storage, and transfer, recycling, or disposal as hazardous waste.
  • Train employees on lead hazards and SOPs and JHAs. Ensure proper labeling and signage.
  • Provide personal protective equipment as needed.
  • Use safe work practices and cleaning in work and storage areas to avoid lead contamination of surfaces. Conduct surface testing for lead contamination as needed.
  • Determine methods and storage areas that minimize oxidation and degradation of metallic lead.
  • Monitor metallic lead condition for damage and oxidation.

Contact

Occupational Safety and Health

(206) 543-7388