The following legislation in the UK specifically mentions lead. Other more general legislation will also apply.

The Control of Lead at Work Regulations (CLAW) 2002

A key point in these regulations are occupational exposure blood lead levels which are:

EmployeeAction LevelSuspension Level
Woman of reproductive capacity25 µg/dl30 µg/dl
Young person40 µg/dl50 µg/dl
Any other employee50 µg/dl60 µg/dl

Is should be noted that these are all above the Public Health England action level for adults of 10 µg/dl.

Related to CLAW is the Approved Code of Practice . This provides details on how employers can comply with the regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive conviction history register records that just 6 businesses have been fined over the last 9 years for breaches of the CLAW.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) 2004

In the Operating Guidance lead poisoning is classified as a Class 2 harm (out of seven). It is noted that there are indications that ‘low’ levels of lead can impact IQ in children.

The main causes of lead exposure are stated as lead based paint in pre-1970’s properties and from lead or lead-soldered pipework accompanied by plumbo-solvent water. Industrial sources and lead in soil from leaded petrol and paint removal are also noted.

It is noted that there are no UK guideline levels for lead in house dust, but there are statutory levels in water and guidelines for soil.  However, the Health Protection Agency Compendium of Chemical Hazards (2007) states that no guideline values are specified for soil.

The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005

The definition of ‘hazardous’ in Schedule II includes lead and lead compounds. However, this is replaced in The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 by more general definitions of “harmful” or “toxic”.

No specific levels to define “hazardous” are provided. Waste is defined as “toxic” if the listed constituents may involve serious, acute or chronic health risks and even death, which would apply to these metals and metaloids. Premises that produce less than 200Kg hazardous waste in 12 months are exempt from these regulations.