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  QUESTION: Could residual paint dust left by smash repairer on council bus contain lead? 20 Jul 2006, Victoria Australia

I am a bus driver and oh&s rep. working for a local council.
Recently, the Toyota Coaster (1998 model) I drive went to a smash repair for panel work, including painting. Before receipt of the vehicle I asked the panel beater if there may be any hazard due to residual paint dust etc. He replied that there was no risk of exposure to dust containing lead. Should I get a 2nd opinion?
Just to be on the safe side, I took a wipe sample anyway, and bagged it. Thank you,
ANSWER: 21 Jul 2006

Dear Stephen,

it is refreshing to receive a question which indicates a thoughtful knowledge of the history of the use of lead in automotive paints. You were very wise to keep a dust wipe sample (hopefully in a lead-free plastic bag or laboratory sample container) but whether you test it for lead or not really depends on how much of an educator you are. If the smash repairer was careful then there should not be any paint dust left on the vehicle so he could be correct about it not therefore posing a lead risk. He also may believe that anyone who uses the council bus is not going to run their finger over the bus and then put their finger in their mouth. He may or may not be correct in that belief.

However, if his methods are more typical of the industry AND if the particular vehicle (or others being worked on at the same time) contained lead in the paint, then it would be very enlightening for you to let him know the lead analysis result for the dust wipe sample after you pay a lab approximately $35 to test it for lead. (For example, Sydney Analytical Laboratories (SAL) Pty Ltd is NATA accredited for this analysis, Ph 02 98388903 to check price and post sample to Unit 1/ 4 Abbott Rd Seven Hills NSW 2147.) Having the actual lead result would be much preferable to getting a second opinion because I wouldn't be too surprised if out of 100 automotive refinishers only 1 or 2 could even tell you that it's still legal to have lead (and hexavalent chromium and other toxics) in automotive paint. The other approach you could take is simply to ask what his staff blood lead levels are because he should be organising for them to be monitored, given the risk.

I'd be very grateful to know the result if you follow this advice.
Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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