Worker Exposure to Lead during Metal Recycling Tasks

The US-American New York State Department of Health conducted a Metal Recycling
Industry Project (MRIP) that collected information on metal recycling
operations and processes from 101 metal recyclers throughout New York State.
This project had two components: a mail survey and on-site industrial hygiene
evaluations. MRIP assessed the worker lead exposures associated with routine
metal recycling tasks, such as sorting, shearing, and torch cutting a variety
of materials through personal air monitoring, surface contamination evaluation
and monitoring workers' blood lead levels (BLL). Findings from this project

  • Significant lead exposure occurred when torch cutting not only painted metals,
    but also unpainted metals and new steel;

  • Lead contamination was found in bathrooms and lunchrooms, and on workers' hands
    prior to eating;

  • Metal recycling companies did not recognize potential sources of lead exposure
    (such as new steel) and underestimated the degree of exposure; and

  • Metal recycling companies that we visited made substantial improvements to
    their lead protection programs after receiving information and technical

More info - Source: New York State Department of Health