Workers May Bring Lead Dust Home With Them

Aug. 31, 2009
Workers employed in occupations that involve working with lead, such as construction or painting, may be at risk of bringing home lead dust from the worksite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Aug. 21 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (MCLPPP) found that six of the 55 new cases of elevated blood levels found in children under age 6 in Maine in 2008 were in homes that did not contain elevated lead levels. These children appear to have been exposed to lead found in family vehicles and car seats – lead that may have been transported by family members who work in “high-risk lead exposure occupations.”

“Among the five families, contacts included four persons who currently or recently worked in painting and paint removal, and one who was self-employed as a metals recycler,” the report stated. “The workers reported no lead-related occupational safety measures provided by their employers at their worksites.”

MCLPPP reported that lead-based paint was not detected in these homes. Instead, lead dust was found in exterior areas of two of the homes where family members removed and kept clothing worn at work.


Currently, there are no standardized testing methods for lead dust in child safety seats or vehicle interiors. The report recommended that state and federal lead poisoning prevention programs should consider expanding lead dust testing to include vehicles and child safety seats.

In addition, the following steps should be taken to identify and reduce the risk of take-home lead poisoning:

  • Ensure that children with elevated blood lead levels are identified through targeted testing.
  • Direct prevention activities to at-risk workers and employers.
  • Improve employer safety protocols.

According to MCLPPP, family members employed in high-risk lead exposure occupations also should take precautions:

  • Place contaminated clothing, shoes and PPE in a closed container for cleaning.
  • Shower and wash hands, face and hair after work and change into clean clothes.
  • Wash work clothes separately.
  • Vacuum and clean the inside of the vehicle and replace a child safety seat that tested positive for lead dust.

Related Article:

HRA: Antiquated OSHA Lead Standards Fail to Protect Americans

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