Health Impact of Elevated Levels of Lead Encountered in the Manufacture of Crystal Glass

Marjan Bilban


Lead is known to cause harmful effects in the haematopoietic, nervous, digestive, renal, and other organ systems, inhibiting a number of enzymes in the biosynthesis of haem, as well as other enzymes with haematological significance. Our study involved 151 employees involved with the cutting of crystal, i.e. leaded glass, who had been found using eco-monitoring to have been exposed to above normal levels of lead. Our bio-monitoring process followed the values of lead, delta-ALAD and EPP.The highest level of lead detected was 276 μg/L, the lowest level of delta-ALAD was 99 nkat/L), and the highest level of EPP was 14.2 nmol/gHb). We had found that contrary to expectations, lead levels were not correlated to haemoglobin levels, or to gender or age, but were instead based only on the post of the employee and their time spent working at the glassworks. The levels of haematopoiesis were directly proportional to the levels of lead, however, the correlation was not statistically significant or had perhaps been masked by the exposure due to the employee’s post and gender. We had also found a significant correlation of lead levels to the levels of renal function. The study had indicated some health impacts of lead on the exposed glass workers, but also at least partly diverged from the results of previous studies, prompting us to continue our research.


lead, crystal glass, health impact, anaemia, renal function

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