Research in Engineering and Aviation

Do New Wipe Materials Outperform Traditional Lead Dust Cleaning Methods?

May 2012

Author(s): Lewis, R. D., Ong, K. H., Emo, B., Kennedy, J., Brown, C. A., Condoor, S., & Thummalakunta, L.

Journal: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 9(8), 524-533. DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2012.695975


Government guidelines have traditionally recommended the use of wet mopping, sponging, or vacuuming for removal of lead-contaminated dust from hard surfaces in homes. The emergence of new technologies, such as the electrostatic dry cloth and wet disposable clothes used on mopheads, for removal of dust provides an opportunity to evaluate their ability to remove lead compared with more established methods. The purpose of this study was to determine if relative differences exist between two new and two older methods for removal of lead-contaminated dust (LCD) from three wood surfaces that were characterized by different roughness or texture. Standard leaded dust, <75 μm, was deposited by gravity onto the wood specimens. Specimens were cleaned using an automated device. Electrostatic dry cloths (dry Swiffer), wet Swiffer cloths, paper shop towels with non-ionic detergent, and vacuuming were used for cleaning LCD from the specimens. Lead analysis was by anodic stripping voltammetry. After the cleaning study was conducted, a study of the coefficient of friction was performed for each wipe material. Analysis of variance was used to evaluate the surface and cleaning methods. There were significant interactions between cleaning method and surface types, p = 0.007. Cleaning method was found be a significant factor in removal of lead, p <0.001, indicating that effectiveness of each cleaning methods is different. However, cleaning was not affected by types of surfaces. The coefficient of friction, significantly different among the three wipes, is likely to influence the cleaning action. Cleaning method appears to be more important than texture in LCD removal from hard surfaces. There are some small but important factors in cleaning LCD from hard surfaces, including the limits of a Swiffer mop to conform to curved surfaces and the efficiency of the wetted shop towel and vacuuming for cleaning all surface textures. The mean percentage reduction in lead dust achieved by the traditional methods (vacuuming and wet wiping) was greater and more consistent compared to the new methods (electrostatic dry cloth and wet Swiffer mop). Vacuuming and wet wiping achieved lead reductions of 92% ± 4% and 91%, ± 4%, respectively, while the electrostatic dry cloth and wet Swiffer mops achieved lead reductions of only 89 ± 8% and  81 ± 17%, respectively.