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"Lead poisoning from machining steel & stainless steel?"

December 17, 2019

Q. I've been an Oilfield and surgery accessory CNC Machinist 20 out of 33 yrs. I now have Lead poisoning count of 23. Since 2014, I've been cutting carbon and Stainless. Here is what's called a BurrKing room that helps deburr parts in stones and polishes in corn substance. We cut bar stock and I have cut it on a high speed feeder 2 turret Emco; my question is, between bar stock and rusted stainless sink from mild steel getting wet, doesn't this cause lead poisoning, and wouldn't OHSA need to know to keep employees safe from environmental health issues?

Sounds silly to ask. Especially never realizing until 33 yrs later, machining isn't being spoken out on all the severities. While I have a scar on every knuckle, it's now attacking my organs. What channels should one take when approaching this? OHSA 1st, to run tests? We all know getting cut is a given.

I've not seen one Mfg. plant have lead alerts posted, for later in life organ problems. I feel it should be made law; employees know what they're headed for before taking this line of work for a career.

Sherry P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Oilfield - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

January 2020
Lead Poisoning

A. Hi Sherry. Sorry for your hardship.

Some things are simply not as clear as we wish they were. For example, after hearing for my whole life how imperative it is to my health to start my day with a good breakfast, I'm hearing just this month that, apparently, breakfast is bad for me and I'm better off skipping it :-)

One of those things that is unclear to me is whether it is realistically possible to get lead poisoning from machining steels and stainless steels. I don't know! Most steel and stainless steel has no lead in it and therefore simply cannot cause lead poisoning. But some "free machining" steels do have a small amount of lead in them, so I suppose it's not impossible if you work mostly with leaded steel, but I personally haven't heard of it. If I were you I'd probably think carefully about more likely causes for this lead problem first -- do other family members who don't work there also have high levels? Is there any situation where you actually work with lead or near people who do? If there seems to be no other plausible explanation, I'd probably contact a personal injury lawyer and see what they say.


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