Re: Lead fumes

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Posted by Gary Dodge on February 16, 2002 at 12:09:35:

In Reply to: Re: Lead fumes posted by Angel on February 15, 2002 at 23:29:43:


While I agree with much of what Angel has said, it is not quite as cut and dry as that.

While it is true that lead does not vaporize at the temperatures at which we work, particulate matter is just as dangerous as fumes would be in terms of poisoning and there is particulate lead present to some extent in the fumes from your flux.

As you solder, at times there will be a bit of spitting and sputtering. If you look you'll see tiny balls of solder that shoot out and can be found on your soldering table. If you look closer, you'll observe that these balls vary in size from about half the size of a grain of rice to ones so small you can barely see them.

If you were to use a magnifying glass, you'd soon discover that there are yet smaller balls that you can't see with the naked eye, and beyond that there are ones that would require a microscope to see.

These smallest particles can and do waft off in the flux fumes, especially if you use a brand of flux that tends to boil and spit a lot.

In terms of protection, I personally feel OK about using the fume trap, more for the fan than anything else. It pulls the most concentrated pollution away from my face, as a bonus may filter a bit of stuff out, and finally dilutes the remainder (by mixing with air) before whatever is going to settle out does so and I breathe it.

If you can connect a duct to the output from the trap to the outside, that would be great.

If you were to contact a true industrial hygienist, he or she would be appalled at the advice we are giving you, and OSHA would NEVER approve of this if you had employees, but there are all degrees of protection and this has worked me for about 30 years (using the fume trap now, but just a fan in the past) with no ill effects.

Gary Dodge

: : I have a question about lead fumes. All the safety information I find regarding use of lead in stained glass talks about not eating, drinking, or smoking while handling lead, and being sure to wash hands after using lead. I find no mention about the fumes.
: ------------------------------

: Lauri, you don't see anything about Lead Fumes because Lead does not vaporize at soldering temperatures...actually not for many times that.
: Thr FUMES you encounter are from FLUX, not lead. They're very hazardous and need to be vented. I doubt your Inland fume trap does anything much unless it's vented to the outside.

: Lead poisoning comes from eating, smoking or drinking after handling solder and lead came. There are NO lead fumes produced in stained glass work. Now, you CAN produce lead DUST if you steel wool, use a mechanical brush or dremel on lead. Always wash your hands and work surfaces carefully...discarding the wiping material. Use a mask if you're going to abrade Lead. Protect clothing in this case with an apron or cover that you remove as you leave the working area and wash immediately afterwards. If you don't have Lead entering your mouth or being breathed in as dust, you're safe.

: Now, FLUX is the big problem. NEVER use a flux that fumes visibly. There are good gel and liquid types which work better and fume less. There are others like the cheap 'Ruby Flux' which will erode your sinuses and cause breathing problems. I tried that one when I was very new and didn't know you weren't supposed to have congestion and bleeding sinuses after a soldering session (so much for the power of a fume trap). Tough way to learn, but at least I had the common sense to look for a better way.

: One of the glass pros who posts on the forums and is well regarded...Dennis Brady...always answers this question by saying YES....lead can do a lot of damage....if you drop the spool of solder on your foot. Ouch! Aside from chewing on solder that's the most dangerous thing you can do. Sounds like Dennis is speaking from experience. :)

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