LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News Vol 2 no 1 Summer 1994.  ISSN 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.

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Smoking and Lead

It has long been known that cigarettes contain lead (probably from lead arsenate used as an insecticide on tobacco crops) and that smokers contain more lead than non-smokers (see graph) and passive smokers, including children, similarly have a higher blood lead than those not exposed at home.

In LEAD Action News Volume 1 No.3 Spring 1993, we cited an example where lead workers who smoked had average blood lead levels of 50 g/dL compared to an average of 30 g/dL for non-smokers. This may be due to lead particles on hands, face, hair, clothing etc and in the air, being vaporised by the burning cigarette tip and the fumes being more bioavailable on inhalation than the ever-present lead particles.

Recently, a caller said two adult males had blood tests after renovating a house together. The smoker had a blood lead of 45 g/dL while the non-smoker, who also took a range of dietary supplements daily, had a lead level of less than 10 g/dL.

Should renovators be advised not to smoke on the job?

Average Blood Lead Levels 1978-1988

Change in maximum permissible level of lead in gasoline:

A - to 0.55 g/l
B - to 0.45 g/l
C - to 0.40 g/l
D - to 0.15 g/l

[Ref: OECD Risk Reduction Monograph No. 1: Lead 1993. Source: Belgium Ministry of Health and Environment, 1989]

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Last Updated 12 November 2012
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