Proceedings Conference on Women and the Workplace, June 17-19, 1976, Washington, DC. Bingham E, ed. Washington, DC: Society for Occupational and Environmental Health, 1977 Apr; :232-242
The effects of lead (7439921) on reproduction were reviewed with respect to teratogenicity, mutagenicity and carcinogenicity in both humans and laboratory animals. Evidence of a teratogenic response to lead has been found in chicks, hamsters, mice and rats, with the observation of such effects as growth retardation of the head, cerebral anomalies and limb deformities. In humans, it was observed in 1916 that occupational exposure of women to lead caused a high incidence of spontaneous miscarriages, stillbirth and prematurity. The mutagenic effects of lead have been observed in rabbits and guinea-pigs, and in the offspring of lead exposed males mated to lead free females. Effects included reduction in birth weight, increased number of dead pups, smaller litter size and sterility. In tissue culture cells chromosome breaks have been observed after exposure to lead. In humans, a 1916 study was described, in which the pregnancy outcomes were analyzed in healthy wives of house painters who often suffered from lead colic. Of 467 deliveries, 23 percent were stillborn compared to 8 percent for the entire town. A 1975 study demonstrating significant reductions in fertile ability of male workers at a storage battery facility was also cited. Studies on laboratory animals in which lead exposure has resulted in respiratory and kidney cancers were discussed. Elevated levels of respiratory cancer have been found to occur in Shoshone County, Idaho, the location of primary lead and zinc smelters, suggesting that lead may be carcinogenic as well as mutagenic.
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