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Lead poisoning in bridge demolition workers - Georgia, 1992.
Frumkin-H; Gerr-F; Castaneda-F; Leal-A; Brown-S; Santiago-LR
MMWR 1993 May; 42(20):388-390
This report summarizes the findings of an investigation of the elevated blood lead (7439921) levels in four demolition workers in Georgia. The workers were immigrants from Mexico, and were hired by a temporary service company subcontracted by a steel corporation. They were hired to cut apart steel beams removed from a bridge using oxyacetylene flame cutting torches; they had no training or protective equipment. All four workers reported light headedness and shortness of breath in April from metal fumes. In early May all four developed a variety of symptoms including headache, dizziness, fatigue, sleep disturbance, confusion, forgetfulness, arthralgia, and abdominal pain. Paper masks were provided in late May by the steel company; however, the masks became blocked within hours by dust and the workers discarded them. By June the workers experienced nausea, vomiting, constipation, weakness, shortness of breath, loss of balance, and nervousness. Personal air sampling was conducted for one of the four workers and found to contain 525 micrograms of lead/cubic meter, more than 10 times the OSHA limits. The blood lead levels were 93, 90, 59, and 66 micrograms/deciliter. The workers carried no medical insurance and the subcontractor and steel company both declined to assume the costs of treatment. The workers eventually sought legal assistance and received three 5 day chelation treatments; they showed some improvement. OSHA cited the steel company for violations of the lead standard. One worker continued to show neurologic abnormalities. An editorial note discussed lead exposure during bridge construction and demolition.
NIOSH-Author; Lead-poisoning; Demolition-industry; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Nervous-system-disorders; Blood-analysis; Occupational-exposure; Humans
Issue of Publication
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division