Characterization of lead exposure among bridge repair workers

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Project Period: 
Project Investigator(s): 
SJ Reynolds, LJ Fuortes, Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa

Exposure to lead is now being recognized as a primary health hazard facing construction workers. Of particular concern are those activities that involve the demolition, repair and reconditioning of lead-based painted surfaces, such as bridge repair work, which generate significant airborne lead concentrations. Recently, several workers on a local bridge renovation project were diagnosed as having medical problems associated with overexposure to airborne lead. This overexposure was determined to result from lead dust generated during the operations necessary for bridge renovation: cutting, blasting, scraping, and hammering of painted metal surfaces. More information is needed concerning the fate of lead dust generated during bridge renovation and repair activities. This study will establish baseline data on the lead concentrations found at bridge repair sites, and use this data in exposure assessment and characterization by personal exposure monitoring and sampling during each of the activities involved in bridge repair operations.


Johnson JC, Reynolds SJ, Fuortes LJ, Clarke WR; Lead exposure among workers renovating a previously de-leaded bridge: comparison of trades, work tasks. AIHAJ: Journal for the Science of Occupational & Environmental Health & Safety. 2000; 61(6):815-819.

Reynolds SJ, Seem R, Fuortes LJ, Sprince NL, Johnson J, Walkner L, Clarke W, Whitten P; Prevalence of elevated blood leads and exposure to lead in construction trades in Iowa and Illinois. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 1999; 36(2):307-316