Exposure to lead
There has been an overall reduction in the number of British workers under medical surveillance for work with lead over the past decade. Women have consistently accounted for a small proportion of the total under surveillance, and the number of young people (under 18 years) under surveillance remains very low. The number and proportion of workers with higher levels of blood-lead concentrations have decreased substantially over the past decade.
The most recent data for 2014/15 show:
- There were 6,319 workers under medical surveillance, a reduction of 7% compared with the previous year
- Male workers accounted for 6,020 (95%) of those under surveillance
- Nearly 80% of men and 95% of women under surveillance had blood-lead levels below 25µg/100ml
- There were 69 men with levels of 50µg/100ml or above, and 21 men with levels at or above the suspension level of 60µg/100ml
- There were 14 women with levels of 25µg/100ml or above, and 8 women with levels at or above the suspension level of 30µg/100ml
- Twenty individuals (19 males and 1 female) were suspended due to excess blood-lead
- The industry sector with the highest number of males under surveillance was the smelting, refining, alloying and casting sector
Work with metallic lead and lead containing alloys accounted for the highest number of females under surveillance.
The total number of British lead workers under medical surveillance since 2004/05