Technology ID

Wipes and Methods for Removal of Lead and Other Metal Contamination from Surfaces

Lead Inventor
Esswein, Eric (CDC)
Boeniger, Mark (CDC)
Ashley, Kevin (CDC)
Occupational Safety and Health
Consumer Products
Therapeutic Areas
Infectious Disease
Development Stages
Lead IC
Exposure to lead (Pb) has long posed serious health risks. Ingestion of lead from skin exposure can adversely impact every organ in the body; the kidneys, blood, nervous, and reproductive systems are most affected. Washing skin with soap and water is not sufficient to remove lead residues. To prevent adverse impacts from Pb exposure, exposed individuals need cleaning methods that will effectively remove Pb ions from the skin to less than the limit of identification (i.e., 10 µg or less).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers developed a method to remove metals such as lead from surfaces, including skin. This method includes applying a cationic surfactant (ISML (isostearamidopropyl morpholine lactate), a compound that lowers surface tension) and a weak acid (such as citric acid) to a surface and wiping the surface with a three-dimensionally textured absorbent support. The cationic surfactant and weak acid are in liquid form or are dissolved in a suitable solvent, such as water. This wetting agent can be applied directly to the surface and wiped away or can be contained within the absorbent support. Research has shown that this method does not damage or irritate the skin.

This technology can be used in conjunction with another CDC NIOSH invention, a handwipe disclosing method (HHS Reference No. E-336-2013) which uses colorimetric chemistry (a color change occurs) to detect lead sampled from surfaces. Combined, these two technologies can “close the loop” by both detecting and decontaminating skin or other surfaces contaminated with lead.

Commercial Applications
  • Cleansing the hands of workers who have occupational exposure to lead (e.g., auto repairers, battery manufacturers, pipe fitters, recyclers of metal and batteries, etc.) prior to eating, smoking, or leaving their work for the day
  • Cleansing the hands of police, other law enforcement officers (e.g., immigration, customs, or Secret Service) or recreational firearms users after using firearms
  • Cleansing the hands of lead abatement workers or those renovating old homes with lead-based paint
  • Removing lead from any contaminated surface other than skin such as floors, walls, windowsills, clothing, laundry, shoes, equipment surfaces, and furniture surfaces that may pose an exposure risk
  • Kit for detecting and removing lead from surfaces (when combined with the handwipe disclosing method to detect the presence of lead sampled from surfaces (HHS Reference No. E-336-2013))
  • May be used to solubilize and remove a variety of metals such as cadmium, tin, barium, arsenic, chromium, copper, mercury, silver, zinc, strontium, thallium, germanium, or zirconium, or a combination thereof
Competitive Advantages
  • Safe for use on skin
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Portable and convenient to use wherever lead is present
  • Effectively removes Pb ions from the skin to less than the limit of identification
  • Can be used to complement other lead detection methods
  • Uses physical (wiping) and chemical means to decontaminate surfaces from lead and other metals mentioned above
Licensing Contact:
Mitzelfelt, Jeremiah