Lead exposure is one of the oldest known occupational hazards. The two routes of entry for lead in to the body are: inhalation of dusts or fumes containing lead and the ingestion (swallowing) of lead containing materials. Lead is very toxic to the human body and prolonged or repeated exposure causes damage to the nervous system, kidneys, blood and it is suspected of causing cancer
High levels of exposure over a short period of time can cause acute poisoning and symptoms of acute poisoning include a metallic taste in the mouth and vomiting, abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhoea. Long term exposure to lower doses causes chronic poisoning but symptoms of chronic poisoning are more difficult to spot as they are very similar to many other common complaints. Characteristic symptoms of chronic poisoning include a blue line in the gums and a ‘drop wrist’. Severe abdominal pain and pallor may also be seen.
Lead-based paints were widely available and used. Therefore, most old houses or buildings will contain some lead-based paint. In poorly maintained buildings the lead paint flakes and peels off and can then be inhaled. Uncontrolled or uncontained dust and debris from renovation works or repainting can expose the workers doing the work and occupants of the building to unsafe levels of lead.
IE Services Ltd is a leading Irish expert in Lead Paint Removal.