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QUESTION: Can lead weights placed in BCD in scuba diving be a source of contamination and how can I avoid it? 30 Sep 2008 NSW, Australia


I'm a scuba diver and I go diving pretty much 100 days each year. I have noticed many scratchers and dints on the weights that I use, since they get thrown around quite a bit. During dives I carry the weights in the pockets of my BCD, which then gets washed with my wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins and all the rest of my dive gear (although I don't wash the lead weights themselves).

Given that I handle many lead weights on a regular basis, is there any risk of lead poisoning from the lead block weights I use?

Many thanks,


ANSWER: 09 Mar 2009

Dear Mark

I apologise for the delay in response to your question. We did not have enough staff to reply to all the e-mails we get.

My advice to you is to wash your BCD separately, if you can, so as not to get the rest of the equipment contaminated if lead particles do fall off the weights. If possible, It would also be a good idea if you can place the lead weights in a mesh string bag in order to avoid contamination of your pockets. I also found out that you should use special weight belts for holding the lead balls. Yet, still even if u use the belt it is better to place the balls in a mesh bag to avoid suit contamination.


Iman Hegazi, MBBS, MD. Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Volunteer

Update 2013: Vinyl coated diving weights

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