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Occupational Health Branch

Occupational Health Watch: June 2013

Lead Still a Health Concern for California Workers

Workers pour molten metal at a foundryA new report from the California Occupational Blood Lead Registry shows that thousands of California workers are still being exposed to lead and have elevated blood lead levels. These workers are at risk for significant long-term health effects.

In some industries where lead is a hazard, such as painting work that disturbs lead paint, very few employers provide mandated blood lead testing. Despite this limitation, the data we collect provide valuable information. For example, workers with Hispanic surnames are disproportionately represented among workers with elevated blood lead levels, suggesting that Hispanic workers may be more likely to be exposed to lead on the job.

In addition, among those who test, employers in some industries are more successful than others in protecting their workforce from lead on the job, as evidenced by the lower blood lead levels of their workers.

For other data highlights, see the full report: Blood lead levels in California workers, 2008-2011.

Improvements in the Cal/OSHA lead regulations (known as "Standards ") could enhance workplace protections, as well as address the critical issue of under-testing. Cal/OSHA has initiated an advisory committee process for revising its two Lead Standards. CDPH staff are actively participating in this process.

Photo: Workers pour molten metal at a foundry.

Resources

Blood lead levels in California workers, 2008-2011

Recommendations for improving the Cal/OSHA Lead Standards

Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program



Email Occupational Health Watch (OHW@cdph.ca.gov) with feedback or change of address.

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