Lead Exposure Among Workers at a Shipyard—Wisconsin, 2015 to 2016

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In March 2016, the state health departments of Wisconsin and Minnesota learned of three shipyard workers with blood lead levels (BLLs) more than 40 μg/dL. An investigation was conducted to determine the extent of and risk factors for the exposure.


We defined a case as an elevated BLL more than or equal to 5 μg/dL in a shipyard worker. Workers were interviewed regarding their symptoms and personal protective equipment (PPE) use.


Of 357 workers, 65.0% had received more than or equal to 1 BLL test. Among tested workers, 171 (73.7%) had BLLmax more than or equal to 5 μg/dL. Workers who received respirator training or fit testing had a median BLLmax of 18.0 μg/dL, similar to the median BLLmax of workers who did not receive such training (22.6 μg/dL, P = 0.20).


Our findings emphasize the importance of adequate provision and use of PPE to prevent occupational lead exposure.

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