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Lead overexposure is one of the most common overexposures found in all industries and is a leading cause of workplace illness. Therefore, OSHA has established the reduction of lead exposure to be a high strategic priority.

It is also a major potential public health risk. In general populations, lead may be present in hazardous concentrations in food, water, and air. Sources include paint, urban dust, and folk remedies. Lead poisoning is the leading environmentally induced illness in children. At greatest risk are children under the age of six because they are undergoing rapid neurological and physical development.

Workers in the recycling industry are vulnerable to lead exposure as the recycled material, especially electronics or scrap metal may contain lead.  As these recyclables are being crushed, burned, or cut, workers could be exposed to airborne lead.

The following resources provide information on the hazards of lead and methods of protection.

OSHA Lead Standard

OSHA Lead Safety & Health Topics

OSHA Factsheet: Protecting Workers from Lead

Washington Department of Labor and Industry: Preventing Lead Poisoning in Scrap Metal Recycling

NIOSH Lead Page




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