What Hobbies Involve Lead Exposure?
Collecting antique furniture and toys, refinishing furniture, creating and restoring stain glass, making jewelry, pottery, ceramics, sport hunting, fishing and firearms practice shooting all involve potential exposure to lead.
What is the Risk with Refinishing Furniture?
Until the residential use of lead paint was banned in 1978, stains, varnishes, and paint used on furniture often contained lead. Therefore, refinishing furniture built before 1978 can pose a health risk. This is particularly true when scraping or sanding furniture creates airborne dust particles that can be inhaled or transferred to the mouth by children touching items where the lead laden dust has settled.
Using a wet sander and a HEPA vacuum reduces airborne dust particles and wiping down the work area with a wet cloth will help reduce the risk of lead poisoning.
What is the Risk with Antique Collecting?
Antique furniture and toys are both commonly decorated with lead paint. Collecting these items increases the sources of lead within the household.
What is the Risk with Hunting?
Lead bullets are still commonly used by recreational hunters. When fired, the friction of the bullets against the gun barrel creates airborne lead particles that can be inhaled and deposited onto clothing as well as the surrounding soil.
Some hunters and target shooters make their own ammunition. This activity can generate lead fumes when melting and molding bullets and lead dust is generated with the use of reloading equipment.
Alternative bullet material such as copper or a copper alloy can help reduce the spread of lead in the environment.
What is the Risk with Firearm Practice Shooting?
The exposure from lead ammunition is worsened when used at firing ranges. In addition to the lead bullets experiencing friction in the gun barrel, there is also the violent contact with steel backstops generating large amounts of lead laden dust which settles into the soil as wells as the clothes, hair, and skin of the hobbyists. The lead particles are then transferred into the shooter’s vehicles and homes where young children and other family members gain exposed to the toxic lead.
Indoor shooting ranges should be well-ventilated using a ventilation system that is separate from the rest of the building. Dry sweeping should be avoided at all costs and cleaning should be done by trained professionals using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.
What is the Risk with Fishing?
Some fishing lures on today’s market contain lead even though their labels may not identify its presence. Many fishermen also employ the use of lead weights with various fishing methods.
What is the Risk with Pottery and Ceramics?
Many glazes and other materials used in the creation of pottery still contain lead. This poses a risk to both the artisan and the consumer of these products. This is particularly true with imported pottery and ceramic pieces from Mexico and Latin America.
To avoid lead poisoning, pottery makers should always wear a respirator with a HEPA filter when creating items with frits or glazes containing lead. They should also be careful to wash hands after using such products. The risk can also be avoided by using lead free glazes and other alternative products widely available to artisans.
What is the Risk with Jewelry?
Jewelry is sometimes made with lead that is dangerous to both the jewelry maker and the consumer who buys it. Making jewelry often involves a lead soldering process to affix metal parts. When this lead material is melted it creates lead vapors that can be inhaled. Therefore soldering should be done in a well-ventilated room. A respirator with a HEPA filter should also be worn at all times.
Parents should be cautious when selecting costume jewelry for their children to play with since both imported and vintage pieces may contain lead. If children put the jewelry into their mouths the lead can leach out and be ingested.
What is the Risk with Creating Stained Glass?
Like jewelry making, the process of creating stained glass products involves soldering which creates highly toxic lead vapors. Therefore, a craftsperson should always wear a respirator mask with a HEPA filter and avoid smoldering in the presence of children or pregnant women. Local exhaust system with a filter can also be purchased.