(Received 29 October 2010; accepted 21 March 2011)
Published Online: 20 May 2011
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Researchers at the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed a handwipe removal method for lead (Pb) after field studies showed that workers in lead-acid battery plants had significant risks for dermal-oral lead exposures, despite their attempts to remove the lead by washing with soap and water. Hand washing with soap and water remains the standard recommendation for workers (as well as the public) to clean skin known or believed to be contaminated with toxic metals, such as lead. Despite longstanding recommendations for workers to “wash hands with soap and water,” no efficacy studies show this to be a completely effective removal method for lead. Removal of toxic metals such as lead from skin constitutes a decontamination procedure; it is not, in fact, a hand-washing step. NIOSH scientists conceived and developed a highly effective (nearly 100 %) method for removal of lead from skin. A systems approach was devised incorporating four components deemed necessary for effective metal removal: Surfaction, pH control, chelation, and mechanical effects. The handwipe removal method evolved from a previous NIOSH invention, the handwipe disclosing method for the presence of lead, in the interests of providing complementary techniques for dermal lead detection and decontamination. The method is a patented, award-winning, commercialized technology that has significant potential to prevent occupational and public exposures to lead.
Esswein, Eric J.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Denver, CO
Boeniger, Mark F.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, OH
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