Demolition Safety and Lead

Lead is a dangerous substance that can cause harm to your body when it’s exposed to high levels. It’s normal to absorb lead on a regular basis simply from the foods we eat or the air we breathe, but if you’re exposed to high levels of lead either because of your occupation or prolonged exposure to it, you’ll have higher levels of lead in your body than the general public.

Why Lead Can Be Dangerous

Exposure to lead is common in construction workers and people carrying out demolitions. This is why it’s so important to be aware of lead safety when you’re completing your own home renovations. Lead most commonly enters the body through inhalation and once it gets into the blood stream, it can be stored in the organs and tissues. If your exposure to lead is prolonged, the lead stored inside of your body can damage your cells, organs and more. Lead poisoning symptoms include headaches, tiredness, weakness, aches and pains, weight loss and more.

Where is Lead Found?

Lead is found is roofs, cornices, tank linings and electrical conduits. It is used in plumbing, in some paints and in larger structures like bridges, railways and other steel structures. You could be at risk for lead poisoning if you do any iron work, demolitions, painting, plumping, or HVAC maintenance and repair. Plumbers, welders and painters are among the occupations which are most often exposed to lead, so if you are undertaking any of these jobs for your next renovation or construction job, you need to be aware.

Preventing Lead Poisoning

Since demolishing a house, or part of a house, to complete a renovation has a lower lead exposure than demolishing a higher risk structure like a bridge, our recommendations are specific to that. The easiest way to protect yourself from lead is by using personal protective equipment.

  • Respirators can offer proper protection from lead inhalation although it’s important that your respirator is properly fitted and able to do the job. To keep them in top condition, they need to be cleaned regularly and stored properly.
  • We also recommend wearing coveralls so that lead particles can’t accumulate on your clothing or body. Coveralls should be washed separately from other clothing and removed before entering your home.
  • Another way to ensure safety is by thoroughly washing your hands and using nail brushes to do so. Dry hands with a paper towel or air dryer; ideally, shared towels shouldn’t be used.
  • After you’re done working for the day, it’s important to shower and put on fresh clothes. This will prevent you from tracking lead into your home.

However, if you’re planning a renovation or planning to undertake a certain aspect of a renovation and suspect there might be lead in your home, it’s usually best to leave it to the professionals. Please contact the experts at Menno S. Martin for more information.