Lead is a highly toxic metal that naturally occurs in small quantities throughout the environment. Lead poisoning is a preventable condition caused by occupational or environmental exposure to lead. Lead poisoning is often a result of inhalation or ingestion of lead dust or fumes.
Once ingested or inhaled, lead is moved through the bloodstream and organs to the bones where it is stored. Lead poisoning can occur from gradual buildup in the body through repeated exposure of small amounts, or through single high toxic doses.
Lead poisoning often occurs from exposure to lead-based products such as old paint and pipes. Demolition and renovation of lead-containing products releases lead dust particles into the air. At that point the particles can be inhaled or ingested. When lead is released into the air, it cannot be seen, smelled or tasted.
Lead dust can settle in food and drinks or can be ingested by transferring the dust particles from your hands to your food after exposure.
Workers involved in shutdowns or demolition at refineries, bridge reconstruction, remodeling and refinishing — specifically those sandblasting, pipefitting and welding — should be aware of early signs of lead poisoning and seek medical screening and advice if they believe they have been exposed to lead to any degree. Your employer has certain duties in regards to lead exposure with their employees. For example, the employer has the duty to provide air monitoring results and standards, and must also provide for medical evaluations if workers have been exposed to lead levels greater than 30 µg per meter for more than 30 days within a year.
Ways to protect yourself from lead exposure:
- If respirator is required, make sure it fits.
- Wear and wash work clothes separately.
- Make sure to clean face and hands before eating or drinking.
- Wet clean work areas to prevent stirring up lead-containing dust.
Early signs of lead poisoning include:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Stomach pain and cramps
- Low appetite and energy
- Reduced sensations
- Please see the National Institute of Health for additional information on lead poisoning
High levels of lead in the body can result in high blood pressure, cataracts, chronic kidney disease leading to permanent damage, anemia and nervous system damage causing memory loss and reduced reaction time. Extremely high levels of lead in the body can cause lead encephalopathy, a condition marked by swelling in the brain. This increases pressure in the skull, which can cause seizures, mental retardation, paralysis, blindness, coma or death.
If you are experiencing any of the early warning signs of lead poisoning or have reason to believe you have suffered prolonged exposure to lead fumes or dust, see a doctor. Then call Ogletree, Abbott, Clay & Reed, L.L.P. We can help you explore your options to recover the damages you and your family may suffer. Call us today at 713-223-1234 or contact us by email and let us help you with your lead exposure claim.