Lead poisoning from paint?

4 Oct 2011
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United Kingdom
Hi there,

Last summer, I scraped old paint off some stonework on my house. Well, most of it just peeled off, so there wasn't much scraping necessary. However, there was a bit of dust created, not least from the crumbling surface of the stonework.

The work only took at hour or so, but about two hours later I developed dizziness and numbness at the back of my head. I still felt the same the following day, so I went to my GP but was assured that it wasn't any kind of poisoning - I had probably just caught the sun.

Anyway, after four or five days the symptoms disappeared and a week later I did some more paint scraping (peeling!), this time on a dull day and whilst wearing a dust mask, and again exactly the same symptoms occured an hour or two later, lasting for three or four days again.

A builder friend recently assured me that the paint concerned would not contain lead, so last weekend I removed some more paint, again wearing a mask, and exactly the same thing happened. I'm still experiencing the numbness now.

Does anyone have any idea what's going on?!


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I think you should place more trust in your GP than in a bunch of anonymous internetters. Maybe it is to do with posture, or pinched nerves in neck or shoulder from the time you spent scraping.

However I recall that in the 19th C, lead miners used to be spent to spas, to immerse themselves in, and drink, the warm mineral water. This works because it increases urine flow, which helps wash the lead out of your body.

I also happen to know a recently retired builder, who was in his early 60's when he had what appeared to be early onset Alzheimers, which was thought to be from working with lead damaging the brain. It only took a year from him running his own business to having to be led around by his wife, and is terribly sad. So personally, I would never scrape or burn off lead without a real respirator, and would probably use a chemical stripper instead.
Wearing a face mask can restrict the volume of air you in-hale, and can also restrict the air you ex-hale which contains carbon dioxide. So you may be breathing ex-haled air, thus causing the dizziness you experience.
It may or not be what you state, but also, old wallpaper had arsenic within it, so maybe a touch of that? A recent episode of 'Doc Martin' featured this, and caused confusion, and a hightened state of emotion?

Not a doctor, but can be checked out via a sample of hair. Ask for a second opinion.

Sounds like you have had an episode due to something you have been in contact with, ask for further tests, ie an allergy test.
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Best advice is stop scraping paint. It's made you ill three times. How many more times?