Swimming in toxic waters - Lead in shipyards

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by pbmaise, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. pbmaise
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    Location: Cebu the Philippines

    pbmaise Senior Member

    At 65ft by 40ft my trimaran is too large for anything but the largest shipyards here in the Philippines. I have been to these yards. They sand blast huge volumes of lead paint off big ships. I'm not in one of these yards, however, I am close to two of them. At least some lead dust is drifting my way no matter which way the wind blows. It is bad enough being within 500 feet of these operations, I can't imagine what my boat would look like if I was within 50 feet.

    So..I'm in the process of doing something similar to what I did in Miri Malaysia. There I tilted one ama out of the water and did some work and repainting That was easy.

    Here I am now looking at lifting the entire wa'a (main hull).

    I'm using mostly 80 liter trash cans costing just $5 each. So it will probably be a fraction of the cost of my last haul out. (No I cannot beach a trimaran this size since the rudder is fixed).

    One big concern of mine is how much lead exposure I might get from the water. Does anyone know about absorbing lead into the body from swimming in water that has lead dust in it? I also suspect I am getting possible lead exposure from just walking on dusty roads around here.

    I have checked several places for a lead in blood test, and no one here seems to offer it.

    1 person likes this.
  2. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Port Orchard, Washington, USA

    jehardiman Senior Member

    Risk depends on many factors. While organo-lead compounds (i.e. leaded gasoline) can be absorbed through the skin, most exposure is to fixed elemental lead (i.e. dried paint dust), which has to be injested, either eaten or breathed. So eating the fish from around that area is most likely worse than swimming in the water.

    There are lead testing kits for airborne dust and water. Just google "lead testing kit"
  3. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    Location: Australia

    catsketcher Senior Member

    Make the rudder strong instead


    I would be very wary of using 80 litre cans to lift a boat out of the water. Some simple calculations

    - I guess the weight of your boat at 8000 kg. Therefore you need 100 of these cans fully immersed to lift the boat. Getting them fully immersed will be very hard and you will need to bundle them in groups and then connect them with a wood or steel structure that the boat sits on.
    - the cans will probably leak and so you will need more than the 100 - say 150 minimum to lift the boat.
    - with the boat in the water the lift will be precarious and you may find a stray wake or wave tilts you over and the whole thing falls apart and floats away.

    So why not put her on the hard. On most boats the rudder should be able to take the weight of the aft section of the boat. If it can't then in about 4 hours you should be able to make a large trestle that supports the keel above the sand by about 600mm. If this trestle has large feet it will not sink greatly. Support the upper ends at the aft crossbeam. Tie it on near the sand flat and push the boat hard aground at high tide. Then you will have access to the hull and keep the rudder weight free.

    It should be much easier than getting into the water.

    As for lead - I understand your concern. I would try to stay wel away by going to somewhere nice and clean to do the antifoul job. Put a tarp under your painting so you leave no Copper behind.


  4. pbmaise
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    Location: Cebu the Philippines

    pbmaise Senior Member

    Aloha Phil to Gday Phil
    Phil thanks for the concerns. I'm not going to lift the entire vessel out at the same time. I'm doing the trimaran tilt. Currently the back-end is now 3 feet out of the water and I finally have a good use for my swim ladder I have been dragging around.

    I am leery of supporting too much weight off that rudder. It really is a far heavier boat then you may first suspect despite being mostly balsa and foam core.

    I don't think the original builder had such a tight clearance to the hull and suspect that the shaft has a slight bend in it. As long as that shaft seal is still working, and it is, I'm not wanting to tempt fate.

    I won't be able to get to the very bottom of my central wa'a this way, however, growth there is low and I swim it frequently with just a rag.

    I've attached pictures of the boat near mine doing the sandblasting. Looks great huh?

    I got to get out of here before the winds change.

    I am eating zero fish from around here.

    Attached Files:

  5. CDK
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Adriatic sea

    CDK retired engineer

    Because of the high s.g. lead dust in water is no threat at all. Until the 60's lead was the most common material for household plumbing. It was gradually replaced by copper, not for health reasons but because that was cheaper.

    The only exceptions are organic lead compounds like TEL that was used to improve the octane rating of gasoline. These were banned because of health issues.
  6. Mr Efficiency
    Joined: Oct 2010
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    Location: Australia

    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Lead is more of a concern for persons with developing nervous systems, i.e., children. There is no doubt it can affect the intellectual potential of growing kids. Lead does create symptoms in the body, I read once that the colour of the tissue under the tongue can be an indicator, it would be worth it to investigate, especially a blood test. Gout can reportedly be caused by excessive lead exposure. More generally, the cause is too much alcohol !
  7. basil
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Location: aUSTRALIA

    basil Senior Member

    Is that a nice little Twiggy MkII in PBmaise' second picture?

  8. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    Location: Australia

    catsketcher Senior Member

    That's a nice Twiggy Mk 1.

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