Minneapolis, MN, March 16, 2017
Earlier this year, health officials from the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Health announced the results of an investigation at a shipyard in Superior, Wisconsin. The investigation looked into occupational exposures to lead. Of the 233 shipyard workers tested for lead exposure, 171 had elevated levels of lead in their blood according to media reports.
Lead is one of several toxic heavy metals that workers retrofitting old ships may encounter. However, many other occupations could also put workers at risk of lead exposure since it is still used today and can often be found combined with other metals to produce alloys. Lead and lead alloys are used to make a number of items, including batteries, ammunition and other metal products. In the past, lead was also used regularly in fuel, paint, ceramics, caulk, pipes and solder, just to name a few.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides the following information about how workers can be exposed to lead:
- Workers can be exposed by breathing in lead fumes or lead dust. Lead fumes are produced during metal processing, when metal is being heated or soldered. Lead dust is produced when metal is being cut or when lead paint is sanded or removed. Lead fumes and lead dust do not have an odor, so workers may not know they are being exposed.
- Lead dust can settle on food, water, clothes and other objects. If a worker eats, drinks or smokes in areas where lead is being processed or stored, they could ingest it. Not washing one’s hands before eating or touching one’s mouth are also ways it could be ingested.
- Workers can also be exposed by coming into contact with lead dust. Some studies have found lead can be absorbed through skin. Workers that handle lead and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth could be exposed. Lead dust can also get on clothes and hair.
“Workers in occupations where they could be exposed to lead are not the only ones at risk,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “In the case of the shipyard, the Minnesota Department of Health has warned workers’ families that they too could have been exposed due to lead dust carried home on the work clothes, shoes, skin and hair of their family members.”
The environmental experts at EMSL Analytical, Inc. are dedicated to identifying and protecting workers and the public from the hazards associated with lead exposure. They offer testing services and sampling supplies for air, dust, bulk and water samples. They even provide an easy-to-use Lead in Paint & Dust Test Kit and a Drinking Water Test Kit that can be found at www.EMSLTestKits.com. EMSL has also sponsored an online video about lead exposure risks in the work environment that can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrZXm-o6cvo.
To learn more about lead or other indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical, Inc. is one of the leading testing laboratories with over 40 locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP <797>, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA LAP, LLC. (AIHA EMLAP, AIHA IHLAP, AIHA ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at www.EMSL.com for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.