Risk Behaviour of lead-exposed Workers and Hearing
International Journal of Collaborative Research on
Internal Medicine & Public Health, 2011 - Vol.
Author(s): Salma Galal (1), Gamal H El-Samra (2),
Manal Mazhar (3), Fatma El-Kholy (3), Amel Hegazy (4)
(1) Former WHO officer and Prof. of public health and
(2) Department of Industrial Medicine and Occupational
Diseases, Cairo University, Egypt
(3) Department of Community and Industrial Medicine,
Faculty of Medicine (G), El-Azhar University, Cairo,
(4) Lecturer of Occupational Health at Department of
Community and Industrial Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
(G), El-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt
Background: The widespread use of lead and its
components has its hazards and causes health disorders
to industrial workers. The hazards are determined by a
number of factors e.g. work process, ventilation,
general hygienic condition of the workroom and personnel
1, and preventive measures. No prevalence of deafness
associate with lead exposed workers was found in Egypt.
However, there is an increase in all-cause mortality
with high blood lead level.
Aim and objectives: The aims of this study are:
1. To determine the association between elevated blood
lead levels and hearing impairment in lead-exposed
2. To investigate the use of preventive measures
Methods and study design: The study was conducted
on a random sample of 61 lead-exposed (mean age 40.4
years) and 50 non-exposed male workers (mean age 39.2
years) in printing presses and battery industries in
Cairo. Blood lead levels were determined and an
audiometric evaluation was done at different frequencies
(500-8000 Hz). The use of preventive measures for
lead-exposed workers was investigated and regular
Results/ Findings: The mean blood lead level in
the lead-exposed group was 52.5 μg/dl + 21.5, and in the
non-exposed was 18.2 μg/dl + 5.9 (t=10.9 (CI 28.1 –
40.5) p<0.001). There was a significant correlation
r=0.7 between blood lead levels and binaural hearing.
The audiometric evaluations revealed significant
positive correlation between blood lead level in exposed
workers and hearing impairment. All lead exposed workers
had hearing impairment at different frequencies.
Although all workers were aware of protective devices
against lead exposure, 100% of them did not use any.
They also did not go to regular checkups.
Study limitations: Researchers could not assess
the environmental lead levels in workers' residences.
Conclusions: Hearing impairment in lead-exposed
workers in printing presses and battery industries in
Cairo is inevitable and irreversible. The mean blood
lead level in the lead-exposed group was 52.5μg/dl, and
in the non-exposed was 18.2μg/dl. All workers didn’t use
any protective devices or go to regular checkups.
Keywords: Blood lead, hearing impairment,
masculinity, battery industry, print shop
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