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Lead: Lead Prevention
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Lead in Products
Health Effects
Regulations & Policies
Lead Prevention
Assistance Activities
Where To Go for Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Getting the Lead Out: Impacts of and Alternatives for Automotive Lead Use
Lists alternatives to leaded products, such as lead-acid batteries, used in automobiles.

Lead Use and Alternatives
Discusses alternatives to lead in solder and plastics.

New England Lead-Free Electronics Consortium: Phase III Overview
Summarizes performance testing of lead-free options for electronic component manufacturing.

Potential Regional Coordination on Pollution Prevention Technologies and Resouces for Industry Secto...
Lists alternatives uses of lead and lead compounds in different products.

Technical Fact Sheet for Lead Hazards and Alternatives
Lists products that contain lead, lead-free alternatives, and success stories.

Since lead poisoning is a completely preventable disease, actions not only need to be taken to prevent lead exposure but also to replace lead in products with lead-free alternatives wherever feasible.

Lead in Products

Eliminating use of lead in products is the primary way to stop lead from accumulating in the environment. Lead-free alternatives have been discovered for the following products to replace the lead that is currently used.


Automobiles are composed of many leaded components that pollute the environment during manufacturing, use, and disposal.

Batteries: At least half of all lead consumed worldwide goes into producing lead-acid batteries used in automotive and various industrial applications. Lead-acid batteries contain over 90 percent of the total lead found in automobiles. Although lead-acid batteries are recyclable, production and manufacturing of lead-acid batteries still releases lead into the environment. Nickel-metal hydride and lithium batteries are lead-free alternatives to lead-acid batteries that provide superior performance, although more analysis of the life cycle of these alternatives is needed.

Wheel Balance Weights: Tin or steel can be used as a cost-effective alternative to lead for wheel balance weights.

Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC): Plastics that are more stable or alternative stabilizers can be used to replace the PVC plastics in automobiles.

Steel and Aluminum Alloys: Lead-free alloying agents can also be used for production of steel and aluminum alloys in automobiles.

Solder: Lead-free solder can replace leaded solder in electronic applications.

Fuel Hoses: Steel tubes or lead-free rubbers can be used for fuel hoses.


Leaded ammunition exposes hunters, target shooters, and different types of wildlife to high levels of lead, particularly at shooting ranges where a large amount of ammunition is discharged into the environment. Bismuth, steel, tungsten/iron, and tungsten/polymer shots have been approved as alternatives to leaded ammunition. Unfortunately, these alternatives cost between two and twenty times more than lead-based ammunition. Steel is the least expensive lead-free alternative, yet it is less effective in hitting targets. In order to promote these lead-free alternatives, ranges can sponsor shooting competitions using lead-free ammunition. Furthermore, promoting steel ammunition as the "marksman's ammunition," may encourage shooters to use this product.


Lead solder is currently being used in electronics manufacturing. More than 30 lead-free alloys are available for use in almost all soldering applications. These alternatives are safe, reliable, nontoxic, and cost-effective substitutes for lead solder. In electronics, lead-free interconnects can be used to replace lead in the solder, printed circuit board (PCB) finishes, and component leads metallization. Generally, high-tin alloys, such as a tin/silver/copper alloy, are preferred alternatives to lead solder. Future alternatives to electrically conductive adhesives (tin-lead in PCB assembly) are isotropic conductive adhesives.

Plating and Coating

Alternatives to lead plating and coating systems are non-leaded electrocoatings, powder coatings, and bearing adhesives. Use of these non-toxic coatings will not only reduce lead exposure but will also reduce or eliminate lead disposal costs.

Fishing Jigs and Sinkers

Fishing jigs and sinkers that contain lead can poison fishermen as well as the surrounding wildlife. Alternatives to leaded fishing tackle include tin, bismuth, steel, and tungsten-nickel alloy sinkers and jigs. Additionally, measures should be taken to properly dispose of leaded tackle and to educate other fishermen about new inexpensive and ecologically sound equipment.

Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC)

A calcium/zinc compound is a lead-free alternative to the conventional lead stabilizers in PVC. This lead-free PVC can be used in wires, cables, and automobile application.

Traffic Paint

Most traffic paint still contains high levels of lead. Waterborne, lead-free traffic paint now exists as an alternative to lead-based paints.

Recycling Lead

In addition to replacing products with lead-free alternatives, lead can be successfully recycled. By recycling or reusing lead, facilities not only reduce or eliminate the cost of lead disposal but also reduce production costs due to a decrease in the need for raw product. This also prevents emissions that would otherwise be caused by mining activities.

Lead in Manufacturing Processes8

The following tables list some current lead-emitting manufacturing processes and improvements, and alternatives that reduce lead emissions.

Metal Mining (SIC 10)

Lead-Emitting Technology

P2 Improvement or Alternative

Two-step sintering and blasting in a lead-smelting furnace

One-step, continuous "QSL Process" to smelt lead-sulfide concentrates, lead-sulfate, and mixed-oxide sulfate secondaries

Open operations, wet scrubbers, and electrostatic precipitators used in lead smelting

Doghouse enclosures and fabric filters

Lead-based thread compounds used on drill pipe

Zinc-based thread compounds*

Plastics (SIC 30)

Lead-Emitting Technology

P2 Improvement or Alternative

Lead compounds used as colorants for plastics

Mixed-phase metal oxide pigments (e.g., nickel titanates, bismuth vanadate) and organic pigments

Primary Metals (SIC 33)

Lead-Emitting Technology

P2 Improvement or Alternative

Old fossil fuel combustion source for foundry furnace

Closed, electric-induction heating system

Oxygen-enhanced natural gas burners in anode-holding furnace used to manufacture copper rods

Plasma-torch heating which reduces air flow

Lead emissions from casting furnace dust

Maintain optimal operating parameters, recycle dust to original process, recycle offsite

Lead compounds used for heat stabilization of PVC cable

Mixed-metal salt blends (e.g., Ba/Zn, Ca/Zn, Al/Mg/Ca/Zn), organotin compounds, and organic compounds (e.g., organosulfide compounds and heterocyclic compounds)

Fabricated Metal Products (SIC 34)

Lead-Emitting Technology

P2 Improvement or Alternative

Lead-based primer for manufacture of ammunition

Lead-free primer

Lead bullets

Bullets made of tungsten/polymer, tungsten iron, and steel shot shells

Lead solder for manufacture of copper and steel radiators

Lead-free solder

Molten-lead annealing for wire manufacture

Induction heating in inert atmosphere

Electrical Equipment (SIC 36)

Lead-Emitting Technology

P2 Improvement or Alternative

Leaded etch-resist used in manufacture of printed wiring boards (PWBs)

Tin, dry film, or nickel gold etch-resist

Lead used in terminal plating of wired products

Tin plating and tin-copper alloy

Removal of tin/lead plating from circuit boards (strip etch-resist)

Improved bath operations to reduce need for removal*

Tin/lead solder used in manufacture of flexible interconnects

Organic materials

Tin/lead solder used in surface-mount technology (SMT) components

Tin/silver/copper alloy

Lead solder mask used in manufacture of PWBs

Nickel/gold, immersion bismuth/immersion silver, and organic solderability preservatives

Leaded glass in cathode ray tubes (CRTs)

Lead-free glass

Transportation Equipment (SIC 37)

Lead-Emitting Technology

P2 Improvement or Alternative

Leaded primers and electrocoats for automobiles

Lead-free primers and electrocoats

Leaded electrical sealants for aircraft components

Non-lead additives for polysulfide formulations and non-polysulfide formulations

Lead-based solder for repair to truck cabs

"LP-1000 Lenco Pull" to pull dents out of cabs rather than drilling which requires soldering to repair and "#523 Alloy," a lead-free solder

*These technologies were collected by the Arizona DEQ from pollution prevention plans and may not have been implemented.

Preventing Lead Exposure in the Home

Although lead-free alternatives have been suggested, the phasing out of lead in products will take time. Until the threat of lead poisoning is eliminated, the following preventive measures should still be taken to reduce the risk of lead exposure:

  1. Where lead solder is present in plumbing, run tap water for 15-30 seconds when the water has not been used for long periods of time.
  2. Cook with and drink cold water since hot water dissolves lead quicker than cold water.
  3. Wash hands frequently, especially before eating or smoking.
  4. Plant grass and shrubs to reduce exposure to lead contaminated soil and dust.
  5. If the lead paint on your home is chipping, hire a professional to delead your house or work with your landlord to get the house deleaded.
  6. Remove shoes and clothes before coming home if you are exposed to lead at work.
  7. Insure proper nutrition in children, including high levels of calcium and iron.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Lead Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 10/8/2013