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J Occup Health year 2007 volume 49 number 5 page 345 - 352
Classification Original
Title Exposure to Lead of Boatyard Workers in Southern Thailand
Author Chamnong THANAPOP1, Alan F. GEATER1, Mark G. ROBSON2, Pitchaya PHAKTHONGSUK3 and Duangkamol VIROONUDOMPHOL4
Organization 1Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand, 2Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, USA, 3Occupational Health Unit, Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University and 4Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand
Keywords Blood lead level, Airborne lead, Boatyard worker, Thailand
Correspondence A. F. Geater, Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Songkhla 90110, Thailand
Abstract Exposure to Lead of Boatyard Workers in Southern Thailand: Chamnong THANAPOP, et al. Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand-Lead oxide is used extensively in the construction and repair of wooden boats in Thailand, but the behaviors of boatyard workers that could place them at risk of contamination have not previously been documented. Baseline data on practices and behaviors of boatyard workers and on the level of worker and workplace contamination with lead were therefore collected. Fifty workers in two boatyards participated in this study. Lead exposure of workers was assessed by determining airborne and blood lead levels. A questionnaire was administered to collect information on work history, suspected exogenous lead sources, personal behavior and knowledge about lead. Evidence obtained by the study indicated that safety behavior and personal hygiene were poor-workers used no mask, gloves or hood, wore open sandals, smoked, drank, chewed and ate during work and did not wash their hands before drinking or eating. Some workers had lunch in the working area. The mean personal airborne lead of caulkers (36.4 g/m3) was higher than that of carpenters (8.3 g/m3). Forty-eight percent of all workers and 67% of caulkers had a blood lead level (BLL) exceeding 40 g/dl. Multiple linear regression indicated that blood lead levels of workers were significantly related to job and education level, with significant differences between boatyards. In addition, the potential for "take-home" contamination was high; none of the workers took a shower or changed their clothes prior to going home. These results indicate a problem of lead exposure of sufficient magnitude to be a public health concern.