Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1980;6(4):306-311    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.2603

The ceramics industry and lead poisoning. Lead poisoning in relation to technology and jobs.

by De Rosa E, Brighenti F, Rossi A, Caroldi S, Gori GP, Chiesura P

The investigation evaluates the risk of lead absorption for 288 ceramics industry workers. Cases were studied in relation to sex, type and length of exposure, production plant characteristics, and jobs performed. The difference linked with sex was amplified by the fact that men usually performed the decidedly higher risk jobs, such as those connected with the direct use of ceramic glazes, in which--although to a variable extent--high percentages of lead are used. In fact, decreasing amounts of lead absorption were found for workers engaged in the operations of glazing, kiln work, maintenance and decoration, selection coming last. It was concluded that, in the Italian ceramics industry, lead exposure is linked to the use of lead-rich glazes and that this exposure may thus vary according to the different jobs or different technological cycles. Although female workers primarily carry out decoration and selection jobs, they nonetheless show high levels of lead in their blood, exceeding 1.9 µmol/l--the limit currently recommended for women.