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Hand wipe patented by CDC can detect lead, protect workers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. has patented a hand wipe that it claims can quickl...


October 22, 2002  


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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. has patented a hand wipe that it claims can quickly and easily detect the presence of lead on skin, the steering wheels of vehicles used in metal industries and surfaces such as tables, floors, walls and window sills.

“This invention is important because it can help protect workers from lead poisoning,” said Andrew Watkins, director, CDC’s technology transfer office. According to Watkins, the hand wipe changes color when it detects lead, which would alert a worker to wash his or her hands more thoroughly.

Lead residues on workers’ hands can harm their health because the lead may be ingested when workers eat, drink or smoke, CDC says. Careful hand washing can remove all lead residues, but it’s hard to tell if it has been done thoroughly enough.

According to CDC, lead exposure is a significant environmental hazard, which can affect large and diverse segments of the population.

A report released in April by the University of Massachusetts notes that environmental, health and safety concerns with the basic raw materials used in manufacturing coated wire and cable are driving innovation and change in the industry.

"The wire and cable industry uses a number of materials of concern, several of which are currently under European pressure for bans and material use restrictions," it said. "Materials used include lead, cadmium and antimony compounds, halogenated flame-retardants, phthalates and polyvinyl chloride."


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