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Lead, Inorganic (as Pb)

General Description

Synonyms: Synonyms vary depending upon specific compound (e.g., Lead oxide, Lead arsenate, Lead chromate)

OSHA IMIS code: 1591

CAS number: 7439-92-1; 1317-36-8 (lead oxide); 7758-97-6 (lead chromate); 7784-40-9 (lead arsenate); 18454-12-1 (lead chromate oxide)

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1025 
Note: OSHA considers "lead" to mean elemental lead, all inorganic lead compounds, and a class of organic lead compounds called lead soaps. This standard does not apply to other organic lead compounds. Note: Large nonferrous foundries (20+ employees) are required to achieve the PEL of 0.05 mg/m3 by means of engineering and work practice controls. Small nonferrous foundries (<20 employees) are required to achieve an 8-hour TWA of 0.075 mg/m3 by such controls.
0.05 mg/m3 TWA
(0.03 mg/m3) Action Level
HE8 -- narcosis
HE16 -- mild eye, nose, and throat irritation
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.62
0.05 mg/m3 TWA
0.03 mg/m3 Action Level
HE8 -- narcosis
HE16 -- mild eye, nose, and throat irritation
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1025
0.05 mg/m3 TWA
0.03 mg/m3 Action Level
HE8 -- narcosis
HE16 -- mild eye, nose, and throat irritation
NIOSH REL
Note: NIOSH considers "lead" to mean metallic lead, lead oxides, and lead salts (including organic salts such as lead soaps but excluding lead arsenate).
0.05 mg/m3 TWA
Air concentrations should be maintained so that worker blood lead remains less than 0.06 mg Pb/100 g of whole blood
See Appendix C
HE7 -- drowsiness, headache, incoordination
HE8 -- unconsciousness
HE16 -- mild eye, nose, and throat irritation
ACGIH TLV® (1991) 0.05 mg/m3 TWA
A3
HE7 -- central nervous system effects (changes in postural sway)
0.05 mg/m3 (Lead chromate [7758-97-6], as Pb (1990))
A2
HE16 -- mild eye, nose, and throat irritation
CAL/OSHA PELs
(See also Section 5198)
0.05 mg/m3 (Lead (metallic and inorganic compounds), dust and fume, (as Pb))  

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): Not established

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 100 mg/m3 (as Pb)

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Exposure to high levels of lead may cause miscarriage in pregnant women (ATSDR 2007).
  2. High Petrol-Lead Emission Areas (PLEA) might result in an increase in the incidence rate of brain cancer resulting from high lead exposures (Wu et al. 2012).
  3. Lead exposure below 70 mg/100 ml reduced neurobehavioral abilities, particularly visuospatial abilities and executive functions (Barth et al. 2002).
  4. Both NTP and IARC found limited evidence for carcinogenicity of lead smelter and battery industries, concluding that evidence from epidemiological studies is compatible with small increases in the risk of lung or stomach cancer (NTP 2010, IARC 2006).
  5. The OSHA lead standard targets a lead in blood level below 40 μg/dL, directing medical removal at a three test moving average of 50 μg/dL.
  6. The NTP concludes that there is sufficient evidence for adverse health effects in adults at blood Pb levels <10 μg/dL (increased blood pressure, tremor), and <5 μg/dL (kidney effects, developmental effects) as well, (NTP 2012).

Partial reference list:

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