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Adult Lead Poisoning - Frequently Asked Questions  Smokestack Releasing Smoke

  • What is Lead?

    Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment.  Although it can be found in small amounts in the earth’s crust, most lead comes from man-made activities such as manufacturing and mining. 

    In the past, lead has been used in gasoline, paint, metals, ammunition, and batteries. In recent years, because of its hazardous health effects, lead has been banned or significantly reduced in these products.

  • What are the symptoms and health effects of lead poisoning?

U.S. Dept. of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration- Effects of Lead Exposure

Yes.  Lead can be found in the blood and bones of pregnant women who have been exposed to lead hazards.  Lead can then cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus.   Lead can also be passed to a newborn infant through breast feeding. 

A man's exposure to lead in the workplace can affect his ability to have healthy children.  Lead is one of the few things which can affect pregnancy by causing changes in dad’s sperm.  Damaged sperm may affect the baby’s growth and cause possible health problems in the baby. Immediate effects can include miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight.    

  • Should I be tested for lead?

If you have any of the Adult Risk Factors, for lead poisoning, talk to your doctor about having your blood tested for lead.

  • What is considered a safe level of lead in my blood?

Lead is not a natural part of the environment and has no nutritional value.  There is no safe level of lead in a person’s blood. 

  • What will happen if I have an elevated blood lead level?

Actions taken depend on the level of lead in your blood. 

    • OSHA is notified of blood lead levels that exceed 25 micrograms per 100 milliliters of whole blood and will investigate employers at its discretion.
    • You have the right to be removed from lead exposure if your blood lead level reaches or exceeds 60 µg/dL or if the average of your last three blood lead levels is at or above 50 µg/dL. Medical removal continues until two consecutive blood lead levels are below 40 µg/dL. During your medical removal, your employer must maintain your earnings, seniority, and other employment rights and benefits as though your work has not been changed. This removal can be continued for 18 months. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your blood lead levels contact:

Mailing Address:
Ohio Department of Health
Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection
Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) Program
246 N High St
Columbus, OH 43215

Telephone: (614) 466-2627 or 1-877-LEADSAFE (532-3723)

Fax: (614) 728-6793

Last Reviewed: 12/31/15