This note, originally published in November 1998, was reviewed by Nigel Bell in September 2004. This summary page includes recent updates to the topic since publication.
Lead is a health hazard. A useful material for thousands of years is now recognised as a slow cumulative poison that is affecting ever-greater proportions of the populace – including workers within the building, construction and demolition industry. But architects, engineers, building occupants and the public near the construction site are at risk too. We are all exposed to lead as we breathe in lead fumes, ingest lead dust and absorb organic lead compounds through the skin. With occupational health and safety responsibilities widening to include those commissioning, designing and documenting construction work, every practitioner needs to be aware of the importance of managing occupational lead hazards.