Families Of Construction Workers At Risk Of Toxic Metal Exposure

Construction is one of the several fields that expose its workers to a number of hazards. One of the most known ones of these is lead exposure, which may seriously affect their health. However, construction workers’ toxic metal exposure is not limited to lead, and they may be taking these metals home to their families.

Construction workers may be exposing their families to as many as 30 toxic elements, including lead, cadmium, and arsenic. Photo by Rodolfo Quiru00f3s on Pexels.com

A team of researchers carried out a study with 27 participants, which included four janitorial workers and two auto repair persons, in the Greater Boston areas. Apart from a survey and home observations by the researchers, a dust vacuum sample was collected from the houses of the participants. In this dust vacuum sample, thirty elements were analysed.

The study found that construction workers were and their families were at a relatively higher risk of take-home exposure, i.e., they are most likely to take toxic metals home. Besides lead, the study identified elements such as chromium, cadmium, manganese, copper, arsenic, tin, and nickel.

In some of the samples, the concentration of these toxic elements was found to be higher than soil reference limits. The relatively higher take-home exposures noticed in the case of construction workers is being attributed to a lack of preventive measures and unsupportive working conditions, such as no lockers to store personal items and clothes, no change of clothes after work, and not being able to wash hands after work.

In addition to this, lower education and changing workplaces in construction may also be adding to the risk. Of the people surveyed, 60% had a high school degree or less.

“Given the lack of policies and trainings in place to stop this contamination in high-exposure workplaces such as construction sites, it is inevitable that these toxic metals will migrate to the homes, families, and communities of exposed workers. Many professions are exposed to toxic metals at work, but construction workers have a more difficult job implementing safe practices when leaving the worksite because of the type of transient outdoor environments where they work, and the lack of training on these topics,” said study lead and corresponding author Diana Ceballos, assistant professor of environmental health at the School of Public Health, Boston University.

“Given the complexity of these issues, we need intervention on all fronts—not only policies, but also resources and education for these families,” she added.

Toxic metal exposure, even at low levels, may cause serious health issues, such as organ failure. It may be especially harmful to children.

The results of this study have been published in the Environmental Research journal.


Terra Love View All →

I am a simple writer who wishes to use her skill to create more awareness about the planet that offers us life.

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