Don't risk your health! Check for lead.


It’s important to be aware that abrasive blasting of lead-based coatings poses a risk to workers and to the surrounding environment. During lead paint removal, the lead particles become airborne, and the body will absorb higher levels of lead when it is breathed directly into the lungs.

How do you know if the coating you need to remove contains lead?

While it’s not possible to tell lead-based paints by their appearance, there is a simple test that can detect whether the paint is a health risk.

You can use a lead detection kit. We recommend the 3M™ LeadCheck™ Swabs, which are disposable, convenient and so simple to use. The entire test typically takes about 30 seconds. The test works by activating the liquid within the swab barrel, and rubbing the swab on virtually any surface or material, including painted wood, metal, plaster or drywall. If the swab turns red, lead is present: RED MEANS LEAD™

How to protect yourself and your workers from lead exposure

If lead is detected on the coating, then appropriate personal protective equipment, site equipment and preparation is required. This includes full containment encapsulation, dust collection and decontamination shower trailers for your workers to make sure they can clean up 100% before they exit the containment. Total collection and removal of dust and waste is required.

Lead is a bio accumulator and can stay in the body for a long time. Lead stays in the blood for several months and it can be stored in the bones for 30 years or more. Many small doses of lead over a long time (chronic exposure) can make you lead poisoned. One large dose of lead in less than a day can also leave you lead poisoned. Lead exposure is particularly bad for children and their brain development so if blasters go home with contaminated clothes it can have a dramatic impact on their family’s health – this is why the correct procedures must be taken to remove any lead contamination by using decontamination showers before leaving the job site.

Protecting blasters from exposure of lead is a key requirement for your projects. Ensure all your PPE and respirators meet the standards specified for handling lead. Remember to check the hazardous disposal regulations in the area where the project is located.

Download the Lead Blood Level Chart

View the summary of health effects of lead exposure.