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QUESTION: Substantial risk involved in melting lead for scuba weights - 26 May 2007 WA, Australia

i recently discovered that a member of our household had been melting lead and shaping it to create a weight for use on his diving marker (scuba diving). He collected lead from 'around the place', melted it down in the shed out behind the house (twenty feet away), then drilled the lead weight to create the attachment eyelet. i assume he then swept the shed out into sand outside. we live on a property of five plus acres, but the dog and kids walk through that sand area (though don't go into the shed itself), and the person concerned regularly comes in and out of the house from the shed.

Is my four-year-old at substantial risk because of this event?



professor john kinsella


From: <>

Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 1:10 PM

thanks for this. the person concerned has not done anything like it since and has become very conscious of the implications of such activities re health. we have also ensured our child avoids the area where the lead melting was carried out and the child has certainly never picked anything up from the ground etc from around there (we are vigilant). so we feel secure re that. it's a long while back now and the child is six and healthy and smart so i would guess all is okay. still, it did serve as a case in point and an awareness has set in. no harm was intended by the said party, of course. now the mining mob is trying to export lead through the port of Fremantle - some people never learn!

best, jk

ANSWER: 18 Sep 2009

Dear John,

Sorry I was not able to answer your question earlier due to the lack of staff. The answer to your question is I would suggest that there is a more substantial risk involved in younger children. As their level of hand to mouth activity is more as compared to the older ones, but you can certainly ask the doctor for a blood lead test. Even a test done now would be useful.

I hope that person has not melted lead since then. If you find a high amount of lead in blood (more than 2 micrograms per decilitre), you could send to a lab for lead testing, various environmental samples such as soil and dust wipes, but in your case you would also send the sand that you are concerned about.


Tapaswini Patel

B.Sc(chemistry), MBA (IM)


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