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Occupational lead exposure aboard a tall ship.

Landrigan-PJ; Straub-WE
Am J Ind Med 1985 Sep; 8(3):233-239
Occupational lead (7439921) exposures in shipfitters who cut and rivet lead painted iron plates below deck on an iron hulled sailing vessel were investigated. Personal breathing zone and area air sampling were performed. All 15 workers involved in the refurbishing gave a brief medical and occupational history. Blood lead concentrations, erythrocyte protoporphyrin concentrations, and hemoglobin content were determined. Results were compared to those from workers in other areas of the shipyard. Lead concentrations in the personal air samples of exposed shipfitters ranged from 108 to 500 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3) with a mean concentration of 257microg/m3. Airborne lead concentrations in two general area samples obtained with the local exhaust ventilation in operation were 73 and 108microg/m3; however, when the ventilation was temporarily disconnected, air lead concentrations rose to 375 and 718microg/m3. Blood lead concentrations in these shipfitters ranged from 25 to 53microg/deciliter (dl). In three workers concentrations exceeded 40microg/dl, the upper limit of normal for adult blood lead concentrations. In four workers from other areas of the shipyard, blood lead concentrations ranged from 7 to 12microg/dl. Blood lead concentrations were significantly higher in smoking than nonsmoking shipfitters. Erythrocyte protoporphyrin concentrations in lead exposed shipfitters ranged from 27 to 132microg/dl, with a mean concentration of 53.9microg/dl. In comparisons this range was 25 to 40microg/dl. No cases of anemia were observed. Symptoms of headache, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, insomnia, joint pain, and irritability were equally common in exposed and non exposed shipfitters. The authors conclude that there is a serious hazard of occupational lead exposure for these workers, compounded by the high temperatures and working in a closed area.
NIOSH-Author; Trace-metals; Air-contamination; Analytical-instruments; Trace-analysis; Exposure-levels; Air-sampling; Workplace-studies; Respiration; Exposure-limits; Analytical-models
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American Journal of Industrial Medicine