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Assessing Health Risks for Workers in High Lead Exposed Factories

Date: 03/01/14 - 11/30/14

Funder: Institute of Labor, Occupational Safety And Health, Ministry of Labor
PI: Nan-Hung Hsieh & Shun-Hui Chung
Project Link: Chinese


Recent researches found that the lead-exposed workers may suffer adverse health effects under current regulated blood lead (BPb) standard. The main purpose of this study is to assess the health risk of hematopoietic dysfunction for workers at lead-exposed factories and provide the novel BPb standard which can improve the health for lead-exposed workers. The BPb and indicators of hematopoietic function were firstly collected as study data and categorized according to different facilities and manufacturing processes for worker by health examination record. We correlated the BPb levels with indicators of hematopoietic function to construct dose-response relationships. Benchmark dose (BMD) approach was further applied to estimate the effect threshold of abnormal indicators. A risk-based probabilistic model was used to characterize the potential hazard of lead poisoning for jobs-specific workers by hazard index (HI). We applied Bayesian decision analysis to determine whether the BMD can be implicated as suitable initiative standard for health management. Results found that BPb was correlated with all indicators of hematopoietic function for male workers significantly (p<0.05). The estimated distribution of BMD 10 can be simulated as normal distribution of 48.3 ± 10.26 μg/dL for male workers and 25.9 ± 6.35 μg/dL for female workers. The results of risk assessment showed that HI for total lead-exposed workers was estimated 0.78 (95% confidence interval: 0.50 − 1.26) with risk occurrence probability of 11.1%. In decision analysis, the abnormal risk of anemia indicators for male workers can reduce 67%–76.9% by adopting the BMD as suggested BPb standard. In addition, the abnormal risk of anemia indicators for female worker can reduce 85.5%–95.0% by adopting the BMD as suggested BPb standard of 15 μg/dL. This study suggests that current health management for BPb should be revised to protect more lead workers.