Commonly called pipe dope, some types of threading compound contain 30-60% lead. The Oklahoma State Department of Health said three oil field workers left drilling sites and laundered their work clothes at home. Two of the four children were siblings.
âThere could be more undocumented cases as a result of oil field workers taking lead home,â said Fahad Khan, OCLPPP surveillance coordinator. âGiven the health hazards associated with pipe dope containing lead, employers and worksites should also consider effective alternative options like lead-free biodegradable pipe dopes or dope-free connections.â
The Oklahoma lead exposure cases involved children ranging in age from 6-22 months during 2006-09. Blood lead tests documented their exposure.
Environmental lead levels were documented in the clothes, shoes, and furniture of their parents, indicating âtake-homeâ lead exposure. Elevated environmental lead levels also were found inside washing machines used to launder family clothing and work clothing.
Health department officials recommend oil field workers do not enter their homes until they have taken showers and changed into clean clothes and shoes. A worker dressed in work clothes should not pick up a child, and work clothes should be kept separate from family clothing.
US Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards call for employers to provide for the cleaning of protective work clothing to prevent lead dispersion. The OCLPPP recommends employers and worksite mangers work with the Oklahoma Department of Laborâs Safety Pays OSHA Consultation Division and the Mid-Continent Exploration & Production Safety Network to ensure that exposure of lead in pipe dopes does not extend beyond the work site.