Elevated blood lead levels among unskilled construction workers in Jimma, Ethiopia
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
DOI 10.1186/1745-6673-9-12
Keyword(s)
  1. Blood lead level
  2. Construction workers
  3. Non-specific symptoms
  4. Self-protection device
Abstract(s)

Background

No study has been carried out to assess the blood lead levels of workers or the contribution of common workplace practices to lead exposure in Ethiopia. This study was carried out to assess the blood lead levels of female and male laborers in the construction sector in Jimma town, Ethiopia.

Method

A cross-sectional study on the blood lead levels of 45 construction workers was carried out in the town of Jimma. The t-test, analysis of variance, the Kruskal-Wallis, Mann–Whitney and odds ratio tests were used to compare mean blood lead levels and to investigate the associations between specific job type, use of self-protection device, sex, service years and occurrence of non-specific symptoms with BLLs.

Results

The mean blood lead level of the exposed group (40.03 ± 10.41 μg/dL) was found to be significantly greater than that of the unexposed group (29.81 ± 10.21 μg/dL), p = 0.05. Among the exposed group female workers were found to have higher mean blood lead level (42.04 ± 4.11 μg/dL) than their male colleagues (33.99 ± 3.28 μg/dL). Laborers who were regularly using self-protection devices were found to have significantly lower blood lead levels than those who were not using.

Conclusion

The blood lead levels of construction workers in Jimma town are considerably high with a range of 20.46 – 70.46 μg/dL and the workers are in danger of imminent lead toxicity. More endangered are female construction workers who are bearers of the future children of the country and the issue requires urgent attention.