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  QUESTION: Is stained glass home hobby using 60/40 lead/tin solder a danger to my family? 20 May 2002,  Canada

I do stain glass as a hobby in my laundry room and my solder is 60/40 lead base. While I try to practise precautions such as cleaning my hands after each use, cleaning the area, and ensuring that any cuts on my hands are covered I was wondering if I am posing a health risk to my children and myself due to the fact that I am heating it up to connect the glass together and the fact that I sometimes have to lean over quite closely to it to make a clean solder line on the pattern. Is there a risk a significant amount becoming airborne? I just started this hobby at home so I haven't been doing it for long. I'd appreciate any info and recommendations. Thank-you

ANSWER: 22 May 2002

Dear Madam,

There are a couple of fact sheets you could check out at Lead in Stained Glass and Beware The Lead In Leadlighting but the answer to whether you are lead poisoning yourself or your children is simple - ask your doctor for a blood lead test and then you will know. The way that lead exposure from soldering is managed in the occupational setting is, in order of preference, to use non-lead solder or vacuum extraction equipment on the soldering iron or for the operator to wear a HEPA and carbon dual filter respirator. The last option of course won't help the children so if it is your only option then you need to do your hobby in an area of the house or preferably a separate building (perhaps the laundry room is separate?) that the children don't have access to and where the air will not be picked up in the HV/AC ducts and taken to the children. It is very expensive to fit HEPA filters to domestic HV/AC units. Never work with lead in food preparation areas of the house. Good luck with it all

Yours sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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