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  QUESTION: What are the risks involved in melting car batteries to make fishing sinkers at home? 25 May 2002, Any State Australia

I am a keen fisherman and have friends who use the lead from batteries (car) to melt down into sinkers. Can you tell me if there are risks involved with this procedure?

ANSWER: 27 May 2002

Dear Sir,

thanks for your question. Yes there are lead poisoning risks from making home-made sinkers from lead acid battery lead and they are quite similar to the risks from other hobbies which include heating lead to re-mould it such as making bullets or boat keels and leadlighting. See Lead in Recreational Activities for a Lead Alert fact sheet. Depending on the volume of lead being processed, the risks may be equivalent to the risks of lead workers such as radiator repairers. See Working with lead Radiator repair

If your friends who do this have had a blood lead test and the result was less than 10 micrograms per decilitre, then they are probably doing it with adequate safety procedures. You could advise them that to be sure of their safety (and the safety of anyone else nearby, especially children and pets) they need only ask the GP for a blood lead test and if the result is high, depending on which state of Australia you live in, you will get more or less or no help from your state health department in determining the sources of the lead poisoning and how to eradicate them. For example, in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania, a blood lead level of 15 micrograms per decilitre (15 g/dL) or higher is a notifiable disease so should result in some government assistance in preventing further lead poisoning of either the sinker-maker or people exposed to lead by the sinker-making.

Please feel free to contact us on 1800 626 086 if you would like to discuss a blood lead result or any aspects of lead safety.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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