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The Toxic Effects of Mason’s Lime

Cement Lime Burns

Lime on the jobsite is an extremely caustic material, and when wet, produces a pH of 12.  Wearing protective goggles, gloves, and clothing should be followed at all times.  Protecting bare skin & eyes from risk of splatter should be given top priority.  It’s always a good idea to have clean water on hand in case of accidental contact.  Skin can be neutralized with a very mild acid such as lemon juice or even vinegar. Repeatedly flushing the eyes with fresh water for several minutes is recommended.  Consulting with a medical professional is also advised.

The farmful effects of lime are far reaching and caution should be used under all circumstances.  Because lime is heavily used in the construction trades, it’s difficult to escape contact completely.  Those who risk exposure to lime include tradesmen in the following industries; masonry, stucco, tile, landscape, plaster, and plumbing, to name a few.  Because lime makes the mix more workable, fluffy, and sticky, it’s charactieristics are very desirable.


Some of the earliest known examples of lime use for building purposes are in early Egyptian buildings (primarily monuments). Some of these examples in the chambers of the pyramids, which date back to around 2000 B.C., are still hard and intact. Archaeological digs carried out on the island of Malta have shown that in places like Tarxien and Hagar, lime stucco was also used as a binder to hold stone together as well as for decoration at sites dating back as far as 3000-2500 B.C.

Ancient Chinese used slaked lime in the construction of The Great Wall of China and in other structures built throughout China during the Ming dynasty.