HSE Lead Guidelines 'Ignore Risk'

Lead Poisoning

10.11.2009

Advice over lead safety limits is being neglected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), new research has claimed.

An investigation by Channel 4 News suggests that as many as 100,000 workers could be suffering from lead poisoning as a direct result of exposure to levels six times lower than the HSE's upper limit.

The programme claims that, while lead has been eliminated from everyday substances such as paint and petrol, tradesmen are regularly exposed to the poisonous element when dealing with scrap metal and other building materials.

HSE guidelines say lead levels of under 60 microgrammes per decilitre of blood are safe, despite research from the US discovering negative effects at 10 microgrammes and below.

The HSE's leaflet on lead safety says: "Serious ill-health problems rarely occur unless people have at least 100 microgrammes of lead per decilitre of blood."

Lead poisoning can cause heart disease, brain damage and cancer.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Mark Allen, a workplace illness specialist from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "In light of the American research I would welcome the HSE considering the matter further. It can only improve the health and lives of those exposed to lead by reducing the current exposure limits.