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Worker lead exposures decreasing, industry group says

London – Workers in the lead industry are experiencing reductions in exposure, and a majority of them have blood-lead levels below regulatory limits, the International Lead Association announced July 9.

Recently collected data presented during a June 19 workshop in Prague shows that a majority of European workers had levels below 40 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, according to the membership group, which is composed of companies in the lead mining, smelting, refining and recycling industries. A “similar picture” was found among North American lead workers, ILA said.

The 40 µg/dL level is the current OSHA limit. ILA said some sectors in the lead industry have set goals to reduce employee blood-lead levels to less than 30 µg/dL within the next three years. The National Research Council has found evidence of health problems occurring from blood-lead levels as low as 10 µg/dL.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance Program has confirmed a reduction in levels among states participating in the program, but notes elevated levels – defined as greater than 25 µg/dL – continue to persist, with the vast majority being work-related.