Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been used for over 8,000 years. It was even mined in the UK where lead mining began in the Iron Age. Mining was at its peak during the Industrial Revolution though in the UK it had virtually died out by the 1900s.

It is malleable so it was very easy to work into useful objects. With its high resistance to corrosion, lead objects had a long life.

Two thousand years ago the Romans were using lead for their water pipes. Our word for plumber comes from 'plumbum' - the Latin word for lead. In medieval times lead was used as loom weights and for the roofs of churches, monasteries and castles.

Lead was used in mirrors, pewter and in glass. By the time of Elizabeth I lead was used in make-up, while the new muskets fired lead shot. In recent times lead has appeared everywhere: in paints, in batteries, as solder and in tin cans.

Unfortunately, lead has proved to be both poisonous to people and animals and the metal is easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Consequently, nowadays its use is limited.

The health hazards of lead dust, paint and fume inhalation and ingestion have yet to be fully recognised though lead paint was banned from general sale in 1992. Leaded petrol was phased out from general sale at the end of 1999.

However, most UK buildings pre-date 1990.  The likelihood of lead contamination is high with anyone that disturbs painted finishes either through refurbishment or demolition, stripping out, repair and maintenance or redecoration. The risk here mainly comes from breathing in lead dust.

In 2002 the Control of Lead at Work (CLAW) regulation was introduced; the regulation it stipulates that:“Every employer shall ensure that the exposure of his employees to lead is either prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled”.  

This can only happen, if you are aware of its presence.  London Laboratories Ltd are specialists in the identification and management of lead contamination.

To find out more please call us on T: 0330 024 5326, or complete the form below.
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