ESTIMATION OF BOOD LEAD LEVELS BY ATOMIC ABSORBANCE SPECTROMETRY IN BATTERY WORKERS IN PAKISTAN
Objective: To estimate blood lead levels (BLL) by atomic absorbance spectrometry in small scale local battery workers in Pakistan.
Study Design: Comparative cross sectional study.
Place and Duration of Study: Department of Chemical Pathology & Endocrinology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Rawalpindi, from Feb 2017 to Apr 2018.
Methodology: We measured blood lead levels of 100 male workers from local battery dealing workshops (minimum exposure of 10 years) on atomic absorption spectrometry and compared with that of 100 healthy non-exposed controls living at least 30 km away from the industrial area. Independent sample t-test and chi-square were used to test the significance mean difference and association, respectively.
Results: Blood lead levels in exposed and unexposed group were 38.31 ± 3.78 and 1.84 ± 0.085 μg/L respectively. 22 (22%) workers had blood lead levels >100 μg/L and 78 (78%) had <100 μg/L which were statistically significant. In group with high BLL, 5 (22.7%) had exposure of up to 10 years while 17 (77.3%) had more than 10 years showing significant association with duration of exposure. Health problems included infertility 5 (5%), hypertension 10 (10%), gastric problems 11 (11%), confusion and headache 18 (18%), with no significant association with lead levels (p=0.306).
Conclusion: Workers involved in various processes of battery handling in local shops have elevated blood lead levels and subsequent health issues, thus necessitating improvement in health awareness in both industrial and small scale employees.