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Workplace Lead Exposure Laws Need to be Updated

Sep 17, 2013

In the U.S., thousands of workers are regularly exposed to lead levels high enough to cause serious harm.

According to a Scientific American report, the federal laws set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which determine when lead exposure at the workplace is unsafe, have not been updated since they were first introduced 35 years ago. Active calls have been made for federal officials to act on updating these regulations but so far no action has been taken.

California state lawmakers are reportedly getting a jump on the federal government and are ready to propose their own standards to reduce lead exposure in the workplace and potentially protect thousands from harmful side effects, according to the Scientific American report.

Adults exposed to lead in the workplace face a risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. Those who are more likely to be exposed to lead in today's workplace work in the lead-battery manufacturing and auto repair industries. In these jobs, workers are exposed to levels of lead dust that pose threats to their health, according to Scientific American.

Lead poisoning, which can develop with higher or persistent exposure to lead dust, can cause even more serious health problems, the report notes. Some victims of lead poisoning may suffer from anemia, kidney damage, nerve damage, convulsions, and sometimes, death, according to the report. Scientific American published a report this month that noted that lead exposure can also cause people to suffer from damage to their heart, brain, and kidney.

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