OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What are other names or identifying information for lead?
CAS Registry No.: 7439-92-1
Other Names: Elemental Lead, Lead metal, Inorganic lead
Main Uses: Manufacture of many products including storage batteries and ammunition, in construction materials, in solders and alloys, etc.
Appearance: Blue - grey lustrous solid.
Canadian TDG: Not regulated under Canadian TDG Regulations.
What is the WHMIS 1988 classification?
D2A - Very Toxic (Chronic toxicity; Teratogenicity/embryotoxicity; Carcinogenicity; Mutagenicity; Reproductive toxicity)
What are the most important things to know about lead in an emergency?
Emergency Overview: Blue - grey lustrous solid. Odourless. COMBUSTIBLE DUST. Dust may form explosive dust-air mixture. VERY TOXIC. Prolonged or repeated exposure causes damage to nervous system, kidneys, blood. if inhaled and/or ingested. SUSPECT CANCER HAZARD. Suspected of causing cancer. REPRODUCTIVE HAZARD. May damage fertility. TERATOGEN/EMBRYOTOXIN. May damage the unborn child. MUTAGEN. May cause genetic defects.
What are the potential health effects of lead?
Main Routes of Exposure: Inhalation. Skin contact. Eye contact. Ingestion.
- Inhalation: At high concentrations: can irritate the nose and throat.
- Skin Contact: Not irritating.
- Eye Contact: May cause slight irritation as a "foreign object". Tearing, blinking and mild temporary pain may occur as particles are rinsed from the eye by tears.
- Ingestion: Not expected to cause effects following short-term exposure. See Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure.
- Effects of Long-Term(Chronic) Exposure: VERY TOXIC. Can cause permanent damage to the nervous system. Symptoms may include restlessness, reduced ability to think, muscle tremors, memory loss and personality changes. In severe cases, symptoms may include muscle weakness, loss of feeling or prickly sensation in the hands, feet, arms or legs, clumsiness and paralysis. Can cause permanent damage to the kidneys. Kidney function tests may show abnormal results. In severe cases, symptoms may include fatigue, increased or decreased urination, nausea, and vomiting. May harm the blood. Can cause a decrease in the number or size of red blood cells (anemia). Blood tests may show abnormal results. In severe cases, symptoms may include paleness, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath and headache. Has been associated with: increased blood pressure.
- Carcinogenicity: Possible carcinogen. May cause cancer based on animal information.
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Group 2B - Possibly carcinogenic to humans. Inorganic lead compounds are Group 2A - Probably carcinogenic to humans.
American Conference for Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH): A3 - Confirmed animal carcinogen.
- Teratogenicity / Embryotoxicity: DEVELOPMENTAL HAZARD. May harm the unborn child. Known to cause: learning disabilities, effects on behaviour.
- Reproductive Toxicity: REPRODUCTIVE HAZARD. May cause reproductive effects in men and women. Has been associated with: reduced fertility.
- Mutagenicity: MUTAGEN. May cause genetic damage. Exposure of the parent may cause effects in children.
What are first aid measures for lead?
Inhalation: Take precautions to ensure your own safety before attempting rescue (e.g. wear appropriate protective equipment). Move victim to fresh air.
Skin Contact: Quickly take off contaminated clothing, shoes and leather goods (e.g. watchbands, belts). Quickly and gently blot or brush away excess chemical. Wash gently and thoroughly with lukewarm, gently flowing water and non-abrasive soap for 5 minutes.
Eye Contact: Avoid direct contact. Wear chemical protective gloves if necessary. Immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes, while holding the eyelid(s) open. If irritation or pain persists, see a doctor.
Ingestion: Have victim rinse mouth with water. Call a Poison Centre or doctor if the victim feels unwell.
First Aid Comments: If exposed or concerned, see a doctor for medical advice. All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a doctor familiar with the chemical and its conditions of use in the workplace.
Note to Physicians: Some jurisdictions specifically regulate an ingredient of this product and require a complete medical surveillance program. Specific information should be sought from the appropriate government agency in your jurisdiction.
What are fire hazards and extinguishing media for lead?
Flammable Properties: Does not burn. (lead metal) COMBUSTIBLE DUST. Powder may form explosive dust-air mixture.
Suitable Extinguishing Media: Not combustible. Use extinguishing agent suitable for surrounding fire. (lead metal).
Specific Hazards Arising from the Chemical: In a fire, the following hazardous materials may be generated: very toxic lead oxides.
What are the stability and reactivity hazards of lead?
- Chemical Stability: Normally stable.
- Conditions to Avoid: Generation of dust.
- Incompatible Materials: Reacts violently with: strong acids (e.g. hydrochloric acid), when hot.Not corrosive to metals.
- Hazardous Decomposition Products: When heated in air or during a fire, forms highly toxic lead oxide fumes.
- Possibility of Hazardous Reactions: None known.
What are accidental release measures for lead?
Personal Precautions: Keep unnecessary and unprotected personnel out of spill area. Do not touch damaged containers or spilled product unless wearing appropriate protective equipment.
Methods for Containment and Clean-up: Small spills or leaks: collect using shovel/scoop or approved HEPA vacuum and place in a suitable container for disposal. Large spills or leaks: contact emergency services and manufacturer/supplier for advice.
Other Information: Report spills to local health, safety and environmental authorities, as required.
What handling and storage practices should be used when working with lead?
Handling: Avoid generating dusts. In event of a spill or leak, immediately put on escape-type respirator and exit the area. Good housekeeping is extremely important. Prevent dust accumulation on ALL surfaces including ceiling rafters and other hidden surfaces.
Storage: Store in an area that is: cool, dry, well-ventilated, out of direct sunlight and away from heat and ignition sources. Keep amount in storage to a minimum.
What is the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®) recommended exposure limit for lead?
ACGIH® TLV® - TWA: 0.05 mg/m3 A3 BEI®
Exposure Guideline Comments: TLV® = Threshold Limit Value. TLV® = Threshold Limit Value. A3 = Animal carcinogen.BEI® = Biological Exposure Index.
What are the engineering controls for lead?
Engineering Controls: Use a local exhaust ventilation and enclosure, if necessary, to control amount in the air. Use stringent control measures such as process enclosure to prevent product release into the workplace.
What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is needed when working with lead?
Eye/Face Protection: Wear chemical safety goggles.
Skin Protection: Wear chemical protective clothing e.g. gloves, aprons, boots.
Respiratory Protection: Up to 0.5 mg/m3: wear a NIOSH approved air-purifying respirator with N100, R100, or P100 filter(s), or, wear a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirator. Up to 1.25 mg/m3: wear a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirator, or, wear a powered air-purifying respirator with an appropriate cartridge. Up to 2.5 mg/m3: wear a NIOSH approved air-purifying respirator with N100, R100, or P100 filter(s), or, wear a NIOSH approved air-purifying respirator with an appropriate cartridge, or, wear a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirator. Up to 50 mg/m3: wear a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirator. Up to 100 mg/m3: wear a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirator.
General Hygiene Considerations: It is good practice to: avoid breathing product; avoid skin and eye contact and wash hands after handling.
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.