LEAD Action News vol 1 no 1 Feb 1993ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Partial listing of the sources of lead
contamination in soil, dust,
sediment, water, air and living creatures, by pathway
Lead can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through
The main pathway for young children is from leaded
petrol fallout, paint and other sources, via ingestion of dust and soil
due to normal hand-to-mouth activity.
Lead from paint contaminates as chalking or flaking
and as paint dust, ash, fumes or flakes when leaded paint is removed by
dry sanding, heat gun, blowtorch or scraping respectively. Paint removal
from -bridges, tunnels and elevated roadways has high potential for
ecosystem contamination, while automotive paint removal may also
affect young children living near former automotive workshop sites.
Industrial wastes, effluent from lead mining,
smelting and refining and manufacturing industries, as well as
atmospheric fallout and dumped sewage sludge, all contaminate aquatic
ecosystems and surrounding land.
Demineralisation of the bone, eg during pregnancy and in old age,
brings bone lead stores back into blood circulation to wreak more damage
in soft tissues. The foetus is then poisoned via the placenta.
Lead building materials, toys, jewellery,
ammunition discarded in the environment are available for small
creatures to eat. Fishing weights and lead shot are major sediment
contaminants available to waterfowl.
Human food sources of lead include eggs, fruit and
vegetables grown near traffic, or smelting or mining activity, some fish
and prawns, whole grain products grown with lead-contaminated
superphosphate, ham, lead-soldered tinned acidic foods and beverages
including cow's milk, infant formula and breast milk.
Lead dust on skin, hair, shoes, clothes, kitbags
and cars of lead workers.
Pottery kiln emissions.
Petrol exhaust emission fallout is a major
contributor to lead contaminated dust in ceilings and other building
cavities which is released into the environment during renovation or
Household dust containing lead is re-entrained for
inhalation, by vacuuming, sweeping or dusting. Renovation and other
activities contaminate houses, especially carpets and soft furnishings,
where it is available to young children.
Incinerator emissions and ash when lead-containing
products are burnt instead of being recycled, eg lead flashings, lead
acid batteries, painted wood, etc; or when it is not economical to
retrieve the lead from the product, eg lead-soldered electronic goods,
packaging inks, light bulbs, leaded paint waste.
Burning of wood and coal and other fossil fuels.
Car battery recycling, if poorly regulated, may
lead-laden acid onto the ground.
Burning or indiscriminate dumping of sump oil.
Seepage of leachates into water table from poorly
managed municipal or toxic waste landfill site.
Lead in air or dust which is washed down, and lead
leached by rain from lead flashings and deposited in gardens if pipes or
gutters are damaged or contaminating waterways via street run-off.
Lead is a contaminant in
cigarette smoke (due to
the use of lead arsenate as an insecticide) and children inhale smoke or
chew cigarette butts.
Domestic animals may be lead poisoned in a variety
of ways, eg young dogs may chew old red lead-backed lino, cats ingest
lead dust during grooming and horses and cows lick wrought iron or lead
paint on metal machinery.
sewage sludge used on agricultural land may contaminate the food chain.