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Assessment of Lead Exposure Risk in Locksmiths
Departments of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (J.L.M.), and Anaesthesiology (S.J.R. V.K.), Clinical Research Center (MM), Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Sciences, Los Angeles, California, USA
The Center for Research in Population Health, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 November 2004; Accepted: 6 February 2005 / Published: 30 April 2005
Abstract: Exposure to lead has been well recognized in a number of work environments, but little is known about lead exposure associated with machining brass keys containing lead. The brass that is widely used for key manufacturing usually contains 1.5% - 2.5 % of lead. Six (6) licensed locksmiths and 6 case-matched controls successfully completed the pilot study to assess the prevalence of increased body lead burden of professional locksmiths. We measured both Blood Lead (atomic absorption spectrometry), bone-lead (KXRF) and had each subject complete a health and lead exposure risk questionnaire. One locksmith had not cut keys during the past two years, therefore this subject and case-matched control was excluded from the blood lead analysis only. The average blood-lead concentration (+SEM) for the 5 paired subjects was 3.1 (± 0.4) μg /dL and 2.2 (± 0.3) μg /dL for controls. Bone measurements, including all 6 paired subjects, showed tibia lead concentration (+SEM) for locksmiths and controls was 27.8 (± 2.3) μg /g and 13.7 (± 3.3) μg /g, respectively; average calcaneus lead concentration for locksmiths and controls was 31.9 (± 3.7) μg /g and 22.6 (± 4.1) μg /g, respectively: The t-test shows a significantly higher tibia lead (p<0.05) and blood lead (p<0.05) for locksmiths than for their matched controls, but no significant difference for calcaneus lead (p>0.10). Given that the mean tibia bone lead concentration was 13.1μg/g higher in locksmiths than in their matched controls, this average difference in the two groups would translate to an OR of increased hypertension in locksmiths of between 1.1 and 2.3, based on the published literature. Even with the very small number of subjects participating in this pilot study, we were able to demonstrate that locksmiths had significantly higher current exposure to lead (blood lead concentration) and significantly higher past exposure to lead (tibia lead concentration) than their age, sex and ethnically matched controls. Additional research is needed to fully identify the prevalence and associated risk factors for occupational exposure of lead in this previously understudied profession.
Keywords: lead; elevated blood lead; lead poisoning; occupational health; brass keys
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Kondrashov, V.; McQuirter, J.L.; Miller, M.; Rothenberg, S.J. Assessment of Lead Exposure Risk in Locksmiths. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2005, 2, 164-169.
Kondrashov V, McQuirter JL, Miller M, Rothenberg SJ. Assessment of Lead Exposure Risk in Locksmiths. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2005; 2(1):164-169.
Kondrashov, Vladislav; McQuirter, Joseph L.; Miller, Melba; Rothenberg, Stephen J. 2005. "Assessment of Lead Exposure Risk in Locksmiths." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2, no. 1: 164-169.