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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lead: Bringing it Home From Work

NIOSH reports that homes may be contaminated by toxic substances such as lead when employees bring home the contaminates. Bystander exposure occurs when employees bring home toxic substances on their bodies, clothing or other objects. Lead affects the developing nervous system of children, and no safe blood lead level (BLL) in children has been identified:

(1). Elevated BLLs in childhood are associated with hyperactivity, attention problems, conduct problems, and impairment in cognition;

(2). Young children are at higher risk for environmental lead exposure from putting their hands or contaminated objects in their mouth. Although deteriorating lead paint in pre-1979 housing is the most common source of lead exposure in children, data indicate that ≥30% of children with elevated BLLs were exposed through a source other than paint;

(3). Take-home contamination occurs when lead dust is transferred from the workplace on employees' skin, clothing, shoes, and other personal items to their car and home;

(4). Recycling of used electronics (e-scrap) is a relatively recent source of exposure to developmental neurotoxicants, including lead; and

(5). In 2010, the Cincinnati Health Department and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) investigated two cases of childhood lead poisoning in a single family. In 2012, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) learned about the lead poisonings during an evaluation of the e-scrap recycling facility where the father of the two children with lead poisoning worked. This report summarizes the case investigation. Pediatricians should ask about parents' occupations and hobbies that might involve lead when evaluating elevated BLLs in children, in routine lead screening questionnaires, and in evaluating children with signs or symptoms of lead exposure.

Click here to read the complete NIOSH Report

Read also: Lead Paint Creates Potential New Wave of Occupational Disease Claims