Issue Date: December 10, 2012
Lead Exposure Limits Are Inadequate
Allowable lead levels for U.S. workers, set by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, are inadequate, according to a National Research Council report released last week. The report, sponsored by the Department of Defense, focused primarily on lead exposure for workers at military firing ranges. It found, however, that OSHA’s current lead exposure limit for all workers is too high. The OSHA standard, set in 1978, is 40 µg of lead per deciliter of blood. This works out to an environmental exposure of 50 µg of lead per m3 of air. Noting that much research has taken place since 1978, NRC says OSHA’s blood lead standard should be one-quarter the current level. The report adds that air recently collected at military ranges exceeds the current standard in some cases by a factor of more than 10.
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