Lead is an extremely toxic substance that can be very damaging to the human body. For many years, lead was an ingredient in paint. Although it is no longer a paint ingredient, it is quite common to come across in buildings that are covered in lead based paint. Lead based paint can also be found on window ledges, door frames, pipes, girders, and all sorts of metal objects. When these surfaces are scraped, sand blasted, sanded or flaked, a dust is created that can easily be inhaled and damage the lungs.

Lead levels accumulate in the body. A low level of lead poisoning can cause flu-like symptoms, weakness and numbness in the arms and legs. Poor circulation, forgetfulness and anemia (low red blood cell count) may also result. Other signs of poisoning are tiredness, insomnia, constipation and headaches.

Ideally, all lead should be removed from the workplace. If you are aware that you are working in a lead contaminated environment, follow the safety practices as laid out by your supervisor. Check all material safety data sheets and chemical labels. Read all warning signs and any other printed material that you come into contact with. Rotate jobs or duties so as to reduce exposure time. Use personal protective equipment and take showers at the end of your shift.