Lead-based construction and building materials: human exposure, risk, and risk control

Shakhawat Chowdhury*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Lead is commonly used in the construction and building materials because it is low cost, abundant, durable, and easy to extract and manipulate. The widely used lead-based materials include paints and surface coatings, plumbing premise, lead and stained glasses, tinted mortar, and cable and wiring casings. The workers are likely to be exposed to lead poisoning during construction, demolition, painting, plumbing, and building maintenance and repair activities while the residents are mostly exposed through indoor environment. Exposure to lead can pose various risks to humans, including gastrointestinal and cardiovascular defects, high blood pressure, kidney problems, anemia, embryotoxicity, neoplasia, bone marrow suppression, and seizures. The children aged below than 6 years are most sensitive to the effects of lead. Low concentrations of lead in the blood of children can cause hearing and learning problems, anemia, behavior problems, slowed growth, lower intelligent quotient, and hyperactivity. To control health risk, regulatory agencies have endorsed the guideline value of lead in drinking water to 10-15µg/L. The USEPA has set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as 0.15µg/m3 as the rolling average for 3 months. It is worth to note that the water-based guideline values may be different from the construction-based exposure scenarios. In this chapter, the lead-based construction and building materials were investigated, and possible human exposure, risk, and risk control strategies were highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in the Toxicity of Construction and Building Materials
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780128245330
ISBN (Print)9780323852913
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Lead-based materials
  • construction and building activities
  • human exposure
  • lead poisoning
  • risk
  • risk control
  • toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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