Plan to lower lead exposure

Government and manufacturing representatives have agreed to a plan that will significantly lower the exposure of American workers to lead within five years.

If a worker’s average blood lead concentration is 50 mcg per 100 g of whole blood or higher, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to relocate that worker if he or she is subject to exposure above the airborne action level of 30 mcg per cm of air. The new initiative is intended to reduce the removal threshold to 40 mcg per 100 g of whole blood.

The change will be accomplished through a joint effort of OSHA, the Lead Industries Association, and the Battery Council International. The leaders of 33 companies have agreed to the goals of the program. They employ 20,000 workers in battery manufacturing, lead smelting, lead chemicals, solder manufacturing, and other industries using lead.