It has numerous industrial and domestic purposes because it has a low melting point and can easily be moulded into any shape or form. Nevertheless, despite the advantages of lead, it has many disadvantages. The effects of lead include lead poisoning resulting in "chronic effects on the nervous system - paralysis of motor nerves, poor aptitude (especially in children) and other effects on cognitive functions." ( Agius R 2006). Moreover, a study (Ferguson D & Horwood J L) has proven that hildren with high levels of lead in their blood score less on tests than those with lower levels of lead. Therefore, it is crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the use of lead. Alternative methods to lead exist hence it is not worth risking the prejudice to human health and safety.
The problem of the effects of lead has caused alarm in the United Kingdom. Numerous employees are affected or have the potential to be affected by lead. These include plumbers, glass manufacturers, construction workers, painters and petrol attendants. This has resulted in the enactment of legislation in order to control this problem. The Control of Lead at Work Regulations Act of 2002 stipulates that "an employer shall not carry out work which is liable to expose any employees to lead unless he has made a suitable and sufficient of the risk..." (Section 5(1)). The Act further regulates the conditions under which lead may be used. These conditions are very stringent and absolute.
The Government has enforced a number of measures in order to curb the drastic effects of the use of lead. One of these measures was to ban the sale of lead fishing weights in 1986 as this had a negative impact on fish as well as humans who would eventually consume the fish. Moreover, the Department of Environment introduced a consultation paper in March 1997 in order to ban the use of lead shot in wetlands. The Code of Good Shooting Practice has been introduced to ensure that non-lead shots are used when hunting. Therefore, in terms of the environmental impact of lead, the Government and the Department of Environment have had a general success rate of curbing the effects of lead. There are of course problems with violators of the law; however, close monitoring and penalties have eased this problem.
The environment is one element of the problem. On the other hand, the health impacts of the use of lead are devastating. According to the 2009 Berkeley Report, "Decreased brain function in adults has been associated with blood lead concentrations of 20 to 50 ug/100ml." The report further states that Government removes workers from exposure when their lead level exceeds this amount. It appears at first glance that this is an ideal remedy. However, studies have shown that exposure to lead has a cumulative effect. The affected person will still suffer from lead poisoning when re-exposed to the lead environment. This solution thus has a yo-yo effect.
The Health and Safety Executive of the United Kingdom adheres to various legislation on the use of lead and also implements various campaigns to control the problems associated with the use of lead. However, the Health and Safety Executive is diverse and deals with health and safety issues in general. Thus the problem associated with lead is not addressed in isolation. It is merely treated as one of the health and safety problems in the country. Indeed, the Health and S