Lead: ongoing public and occupational health issues in vulnerable populations: a case study

Kar-Purkayastha, I.; Balasegaram, S.; Sen, D.; Rehman, A.J.; Dargan, P.I.; Johnston, D.; Raynal, A.; Wood, D.M.; Abrahams, A.; Kamanyire, R.; Murray, V.; Cordery, R.
June 2012
Journal of Public Health;Jun2012, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p176
Academic Journal
Background Lead has been recognized increasingly as a public health risk, although with the introduction of wide-ranging occupational and public health measures, levels of blood lead in the general population of the UK and other developed nations have been in decline in recent years. Nonetheless, cases of lead poisoning still occur. Methods We report on a large cluster of exposed lead workers and their families, including several children. The focus of the occupational and public health investigations was to identify the different groups at risk and the pathways by which potential exposures were taking place. Results Lead in the workplace was found to account for the raised blood lead levels amongst the workers with exposure occurring as a result of insufficient demarcation between ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ areas, and from contamination of personal belongings with lead. Furthermore, there was evidence of para-occupational exposure of family members. Conclusions The successful control of lead in this case required multidisciplinary working. Efforts included extensive workplace controls, along with the education and care of workers and their families, though complicated by lack of familiarity with the UK health service amongst the affected groups, language barriers, underlying low levels of literacy and high mobility.


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