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Risks to health and environment of the use of lead in products in the EU

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Author: Tukker, A. · Buist, H. · Oers, L. van · Voet, E. van der
Institution: TNO Bouw en Ondergrond
Source:Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 2, 49, 89-109
Identifier: 239632
doi: doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2006.03.005
Keywords: Health · Food and Chemical Risk Analysis · EU15 · Lead · Lead products · Material flow analysis · MFA · Risk assessment · SFA · Substance flow analysis · Europian Union (EU) · Lead products · Material flow analysis (MFA) · Substance flow analysis (SFA) · Economic and social effects · Environmental impact · Health risks · Industrial emissions · Lead · Risk assessment · Toxic materials · Environmental engineering · alloy · drinking water · gasoline · lead · Economic and social effects · Environmental engineering · Environmental impact · Health risks · Industrial emissions · Lead · Risk assessment · Toxic materials · environmental risk · European Commission · health risk · lead · air pollution control · article · corrosion · dust · ecosystem · environmental exposure · flow measurement · food contamination · health hazard · human · incineration · landfill · lead poisoning · municipal solid waste · pollution · risk assessment · soil analysis


The EU Commission's Services asked TNO and CML to perform a study into the risks of the present uses of lead over time, as an input to a discussion on the need of a further reduction of the use of this material. The study was set up as a substance flow analysis to analyse trends in uses and emissions of lead in Europe between 2000 and 2030. The study showed among others that the flow to (final) landfill of lead is declining from about 290 ktpa in 2000 to 220 ktpa in 2003 for the EU15. Alloys, or more specifically lead in electronic equipment, contribute to about 5% of these flows. The study also compared current actual exposures in the environment, of workers, and the general public (adults and young children) to authoritative limit values set in the EU. From this, it appeared that under unfavorable conditions (high dust/soil intake via hand-mouth behavior) young children may exceed their tolerable daily intake (TDI). The study hence concluded that for children, there is a need for further information and/or testing. It has to be stressed, however, that this purely risk based approach leaves several questions about sustainable lead management unanswered. It gives a 'picture' at a given moment in time. Successes in lowering exposure were mainly reached by reducing direct emissions from various sources (e.g. emissions to air via leaded gasoline). However, it is also clear that the use and hence the economical stock of lead is growing, as is the stock in landfills and certain residues from Municipal Solid Waste Incinerators (MSWIs), which might be re-used. This led to a discussion driven by the fear for slow 'enrichment' of the economical and ecological system with lead, and hence a possible higher exposure in future. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.