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Lead Poisoning in Adults

Are You Concerned About Lead Poisoning at Work?

The majority of lead poisoning cases involve children, but adults can suffer medical conditions caused by lead poisoning as well, especially when exposed to large amounts of lead at work.

Understanding Who Is at Risk of Lead Exposure

Most adults are not at risk of significant lead poisoning, but lead exposure is somewhat more likely to affect people who work in certain industries or live in certain areas.

Lead abatement workers: Even with a great deal of care, people who work on lead abatement projects can get exposed to dangerous amounts of lead.

Painters: People who paint the outsides of buildings and window frames can get exposed to lead, especially if they burn off old paint.

Auto mechanics: If you do auto body work on cars, it is possible to get exposed to lead paint in certain circumstances.

Hairdressers: Certain hair dyes contain lead, although these dyes are typically not approved for use in the United States.

Residents of dumping areas: If you live in an area where people discard old car batteries, there could be significant amounts of lead in your general environment.

If you fit into one of these categories and are concerned about lead poisoning, your doctor may be able to test you to determine whether you have lead in your bloodstream.

Other occupations that are sources of adult lead exposure:

  • Construction work
  • Steel welder
  • Bridge reconstruction worker
  • Firing range instructor and cleaner
  • Painter
  • Remodeler and refinisher
  • Foundry worker
  • Scrap metal recycler
  • Auto repairer
  • Cable splicer

Hobbies that are possible sources of lead exposure:

  • Casting bullets or fishing sinkers
  • Home remodeling
  • Target shooting at firing ranges
  • Lead soldering
  • Auto repair
  • Stained glass making
  • Glazed pottery making

How You Can Reduce Your Exposure to Lead

  • Wash your hands and face before eating, drinking or smoking
  • Eat, drink and smoke only in areas free of lead dust and fumes.
  • Wear a clean, properly fitted respirator with HEPA filter in all areas that have lead dust or fumes. Shave to get the best fit.
  • Change into different clothes and shoes before engaging in work with lead. Keep street clothes and shoes in a clean place.
  • Shower after working with lead before going home.
  • Launder clothes separately from other family members’ clothes.

Adult lead exposure occurs when lead dust or fumes are inhaled, or when lead is ingested via contaminated hands, food, water, cigarettes or clothing. Lead entering the respiratory and digestive systems is released to the blood and distributed throughout the body. More than 90% of the total body burden of lead is accumulated in the bones, where it is stored. Lead in bones may be released into the blood, re-exposing organ systems long after the original exposure.

According to the New York State Department of Health, the toxic nature of lead is well documented. Lead affects all organs and functions of the body to varying degrees. The frequency and severity of symptoms among exposed individuals depends upon the amount of exposure. The list below shows many of the key lead-induced health effects.

  • Neurological Effects
    • Peripheral neuropathy
    • Fatigue / Irritability
    • Impaired concentration
    • Hearing loss
    • Wrist / Foot drop
    • Seizures
    • Encephalopathy
  • Gastrointestinal Effects
    • Nausea
    • Dyspepsia
    • Constipation
    • Colic
    • Lead line on gingival tissue
  • Reproductive Effects
    • Miscarriages/Stillbirths
    • Reduced sperm count & motility
    • Abnormal sperm
  • Heme Synthesis
    • Anemia
    • Erythrocyte protoporphyrin elevation
  • Renal Effects
    • Chronic nephropathy with proximal tubular damage
    • Hypertension
  • Other
    • Arthralgia
    • Myalgia

Dangers to Adults for lead poisoning

  • At levels above 80 µg/dL, serious, permanent health damage may occur (extremely dangerous).
  • Between 40 and 80 µg/dL, serious health damage may be occurring, even if there are no symptoms (seriously elevated).
  • Between 25 and 40 µg/dL, regular exposure is occurring. There is some evidence of potential physiologic problems (elevated).
  • Between 10 and 25 µg/dL, lead is building up in the body and some exposure is occurring.

The typical level for U.S. adults is less than 10 µg/dL (mean = 3 µg/dL).

At the Law Offices of Charles N. Rock in New York, we represent clients throughout the northeast U.S. who have been harmed by lead poisoning. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with experienced personal injury lawyer Charles Rock.

Identifying the Symptoms of Adult Lead Poisoning

While lead poisoning in adults is not always as severe as lead poisoning in children, exposure to extreme amounts of lead can affect the many systems described above. If you are suffering from the consequences of lead exposure, you may be entitled to compensation.

Personal Injury Attorney Charles Rock and our team will attempt to identify who is responsible for your lead poisoning. If responsibility can be placed on someone other than your employer, we can help you bring a personal injury claim. Contact us to learn more about lead poisoning lawsuits in Newburgh, New Paltz, Kingston, Middletown, New Windsor, Poughkeepsie and throughout New York.