1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Health Effects of Coal Burning??

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Boston Mac, Feb 16, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Boston Mac

    Boston Mac New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    3
    I've been using my coal stove for the first time this season (after much help from this site.) We've been loving the heat it provides in our big cold house, but my son has just tested with a high lead level in his blood. I've found some scary sites that connect coal burning with lead output (in the vapors, coal dust and ash) among other things. Does anyone have any good information about possible health impacts of burning anthracite coal in the home?

    Thanks so much for the help!

    Stacey

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    234
    Loc:
    Northwest New Jersey
    How old is your son? And how old is your house? When did you move there? How new/renovated/renewed is the house? How much handling of the coal does your son do? Do you shoot guns? (Not a random question, I glove up when I shoot lead bullets or slugs).
    How smoky is the coal stove? Is your coal washed at the breaker's/supplier?

    Possibilities:
    Lead paint in house
    Lead pipe in house (water)
    Lead patch to water pipes in house.
    new coal stove heating things that weren't heated before, like a painted mantle, and vapors coming out of paint
    coal problems - never heard of, but hey, IANAD (I Am Not A Doctor)

    Sorry, just trying to be thorough.

    Joshua
  3. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Lead won't build up that fast from burning coal. There must be some other source.
  4. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,003
    Loc:
    Orient Point, NY
    Unless your kid is huffing the flue pipe, I'd look elsewhere. How old is your house, and how old is his school building?
  5. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,153
    Loc:
    Midwest
    I'll throw out another thing just because I remember reading it years ago. Similar situation...a family's kid tested positive for high lead in the blood, they checked everything house, school, paint, pipes, toys, etc and couldn't find a source. One day someone noticed the kid drinking juice out of his favorite cup...some bright colored glazed ceramic the family had picked up from who knows where. They tested it and found some component had a high concentration of lead. Turns out the morning juice from the favorite cup was a daily dose of lead.

    Best wishes for a quick resolution, but I too, would suspect something like paint, pipes, or frequent handling of some object in the old house made of lead before I would suspect the coal stove.

    Corey
  6. JAred

    JAred New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    125
    very strange

    I've heard that you must be in contact with heavy metals quite often, everyday even to amass A detectible level of lead, mercury or other heavy metals. I work around mercury everyday and get my blood checked once a year and for the last two I have not had a problem. At work our neon tube bender gets exposed to even more lead and mercury and gets his blood tested at least three times a year just to be on the safe side and has never had a problem. I would guess that he is coming in contact with the lead in a very direct way. AKA drinking water or some other direct route of intake. Play detective and question everything. Also have you or anyone else in the house been tested? Finding the cause of this should be your upmost concern; as heavy metal is very detrimental to the growing body and mind.
  7. zogboy

    zogboy New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    118
    Loc:
    CNY
    If you live near a hi-way the dirt in your yard can have high concentrations of lead from the days of leaded gasoline.
    As Josh said some water system contain lead. The water mains are a major source in some cities.
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    We all here are speculating. If your home is older than 1978, than chances are you have lead paint. That is the year I think they banned Lead in paint. Again, if your hone were older than 1975 all coper pipes were soldered using high constrentations of lead, today solder is 90 to 95% lead free. Water sitting in the pipe has the oppertunity of collecting lead, running it a bit reduces the risk.
    If your home is older and has been painted and scraped many times the ground around the home probably contains lead.
    Do not know the age of your son,,but he could be playing in an area contaminated with lead, from past paint scrapings.
    That is probably the most likely sources at your home. If you son chewed the window sills of lead paint wood. If you son does not handle the coal of is involved in the stove process, Start looking around you home for the souce. Have your water tested
  9. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    958
    Loc:
    Chazy, NY 12921
    It would be a good idea to get your water tested just to elimanate that. It shouldn't cost much. I seem to remember something about acidic drinks in ceramic cups releasing toxic metals if they contain them. I think most of them are made overseas that have that problem but heck everything is made oversease today. What are the rest of the family's levels? I would look seriously into the water before the stove and take a sample of the paint if the house is old enough. The local county health dept may do that for you. They should take some interest and assist you I would think. Bottled water for just drinking isn't really expensive if you have to go that route.
    Hey another happy thought once you solve this mystery. If you haven't already done it go to Wallyworld and get one of those RADON detector kits. Lead is bad but radon will kill you quiker than smoking 3 packs a day. True most places don't have radon but guess what there can be hot spots anywhere.
  10. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,153
    Loc:
    Midwest
    Just thought I would append this to the end of the thread since it was dealing with a pretty serious issue of lead poisoning:

    Seems a several thousand pieces of kids costume jewelery is being recalled for high lead content. I guess one kid has already died. IMHO, who ever signed off the OK to produce kids jewelery with lead should be drug into court and tried for manslaughter if not murder. But anyway, here is the article:

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/03/23/jewelry.lead.poisoning.ap/index.html

    Appears on cnn.com March 22, 2006

    Corey
  11. berlin

    berlin New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Messages:
    299
    Loc:
    Western NY
    "I’ve heard that you must be in contact with heavy metals quite often, everyday even to amass A detectible level of lead, mercury or other heavy metals."

    right, and lead is one trace element that US coal does not contain much of, additionally he would have to be eating buckets of coal ash as well as living in the chimney to build up levels of lead or other trace elements in in his body; even rolling around in the coal pile is not going to do anything to him other than cover him in black, let alone simply handling coal or helping with the stove.
  12. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Others are more knowledgeable about coal, but consider these additional possibilities for lead sources:

    Many plastics are still colored using lead pigments. I've heard of at least one electrician getting severe lead poisoning from chewing on stripped away, colored insulation from wires he was installing. He liked to chew on the insulation like gum or a hay straw I guess. It took them forever to figure out what was causing it. Sometimes the habits or behaviors that you are most comfortable with, perform the most often, or seem the most harmless might be the culprit and might be overlooked.

    Here in Missouri, we have a battery and lead recycling plant in Herculaneum. For miles around the plant there is lead contamination. It doesn't just go away in a decade, either. Houses are being abandoned for a few miles radius around the plant. If there have been any such industries near your home, this might be an issue. Lead can be transmitted fair distances from industrial processes stirring up lead particles or dust into the air and it getting blown down wind. Look around your neighborhood if this is a possibility.

    I'd think if only your child has high lead levels, then maybe it's caused by a behavior only they are performing, or by some location that only they frequent that you don't. Like a daycare center with lead dishes, contaminated soil, pre 1970's paint, maybe an old gas station nearby that recycled batteries, etc.

    I think lead (and other pollution) levels can be many, many times higher within 100 feet of major automotive roadways. All that lead from our old leaded gasoline days is likely still contaminating dirt somewhere and being blown around, too. Likely near the roads for the most part.

    I wonder if growing vegetables in lead contaminated soil is an issue? Lead paint in a swimmer pool? Rain water run-off from a contaminated roof? Lots of possibilities.

    Many children's toys contain lead. Those more primitive action figures with NO joints that you can bend into different positions. Maybe cheap pencils have been painted with lead paint that are getting chewed on. Lots of my friends used to chew on pencils (not the lead itself--that's actually graphite--I'm talking about the colored paint on the outside).

    I heard of another recall of vending machine trinkets recently that contained lead. I think China is using a lot of lead for children's toys and stuff. We will probably be discovering it for years. I guess it's cheaper to use that other stuff.

    Breathing some types of electrical solder can get you high levels of lead exposure. Especially if it's older stuff they found in grandpa's garage, etc. I used to do a lot of soldering as a kid putting together those radio shack kits. I probably had a few doses myself.

    I know some gun ranges also have high concentrations of lead from all the lead bullets. Same with shotgun trap, skeet, and sporting clay ranges. Does your husband reload ammo? Could your child have found some lead 'to play with'. It's fascinating stuff to kids because it is so heavy, etc. Me and Mrs. Mo Heat both played with Mercury when we were kids. Got it from our dad's who thought we'd be fascinated. They were right. An old acquaintance of mine still uses it to pan for gold. It gets the gold out somehow. I used to love to chip the asbestos sideboard tiles off at the bottom of my house, just to see them break. Probably breathed in lots of friable asbestos as a kid.

    I wish you luck. Get the whole family tested if you haven't been already. If only one family member has elevated levels, I guess the source may be unique to your child's behavior, some unique exposure, or some unique location they frequent, but that you don't. I'll bet some doctors specialize in finding lead sources. Maybe you could find one of those guys to help out. Someone who specializes in lead poisoning who has seen all sorts of lead fomites that other doctors might not think of.
  13. berlin

    berlin New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2006
    Messages:
    299
    Loc:
    Western NY
    mo heat has some good points.

    I see that you say you "saw some sites on the internet" that say this or that, well, you will probably find sites on the internet that connect picking your nose with brain cancer, it does not mean that you should believe the nonsense; there are a lot of pages of crap people put out there boosting agenda's, ideas, and other random nonsense that often has little factual basis on anything.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page