What is Lead?

  • Heavy metal at room temperature
  • Bluish-gray
  • Low melting point
  • Pliable
  • Corrosion resistant

How is and has lead been used?

Gasoline, smelting, lead battery manufacturing, paints, solder, ship building, car manufacturing, etc.

How is Lead used at LBNL?/Where could I find lead at LBNL?

  • Lead based paint was historically used throughout Laboratory. 

  • There is a potential for exposure during lead paint removal or deterioration;

  • Lead bricks used for radiation shielding.  Disturbing the white oxidized powder that forms on bricks, liberates dust containing lead
  • Smelting lead to form uniquely shaped bricks can result in the formation of lead fumes;

  • Soldering with lead (tin/lead solder);

  • Disturbing lead dust that has accumulated throughout the years in ducts, around piping etc.

Could I find lead outside of LBL?


  • If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead based paint.  The older the house the more likely lead based paint was used at some time on the exterior or interior walls.  Paint that is in good condition is not a problem.  However during renovations, lead dust maybe generated.  Peeling or chipped paint could be an ingestion hazard for small children and pets.

  • Hobbies: Many hobbies involve potential exposure to lead, some examples are: stain glass, making/chewing fishing sinkers, and poorly ventilated firing ranges.
  • Home Products: Foods such as lozeena (a spice) and tamarindo candy jam have been known to sometimes contain lead.  Improperly fired ceramics is another source of lead.  Lead from the painted dish or pot leaches into the food being stored on or cooked in it.