Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What can I do if I'm worried about lead in the workplace?"
I'm a man, 33 years old, and I think there might be high levels of lead at my job. Is there anyway I can tell? & what does lead do to you?
You should discuss this issue with your doctor, among other steps. Exposure to high levels of lead can lead to both acute and chronic forms of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is more dangerous in children than in adults because it can cause permanent cognitive deficits if the lead exposure occurs when the brain is actively developing. However, adults can also develop lead poisoning if they are exposed to high levels in their jobs. The symptoms of lead poisoning, especially in its more chronic form, can sometimes be easy to miss because they can include vague symptoms like fatigue, headache, or abdominal pain. The first thing, therefore, if you expect a lead exposure is to see your primary care doctor, who will be able to perform the necessary blood tests to see if you have in fact been exposed. The other thing to do would be to discuss your concerns with the occupational health and safety (OHS) office at your workplace. If your employer is too small to have an OHS office, or if you are fearful of recrimination, you can also communicate your concerns directly to the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. More information on how to submit a worker complaint or concern can be found at their website, at www.osha.gov/workers.html
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