Construction workers can take toxic metals home – Consumer Health News

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TUESDAY, Feb. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Construction workers can bring home more than just bacon — they can also expose their families to toxic metals, a new study reveals.

Toxic contaminants unintentionally brought into the home from the workplace pose a public health hazard, but the majority of research to date has focused on lead-related issues.

Much less is known about home exposures to other harmful metals.

To find out more, the researchers collected and analyzed dust samples from the homes of 27 workers in the greater Boston area. The study focused on construction workers, but also on janitors and car repairers.

Construction workers had higher levels of lead, arsenic, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel and tin dust in their homes than janitorial and auto repair workers.

“Many occupations are exposed to toxic metals on the job, but construction workers find it more difficult to implement safe practices when leaving the job site due to the type of transient outdoor environments they work in and the lack of training on these topics,” the study said. lead author Diana Ceballos. She directs the Exposure Biology Research Laboratory at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Investigators also found that higher concentrations of toxic metals in the home were associated with lower education; not having a work locker to store clothes; mix work and personal effects, and have no place to wash clothes. Not washing hands after work and not changing clothes after work were also linked to higher metal concentrations.

The study was published online recently in the journal Environmental research. It highlights the need for improved measures to reduce home exposure among construction workers, according to the authors.

“Given the lack of policies and training in place to stop this contamination in high-exposure workplaces such as construction sites, it is inevitable that these toxic metals will migrate into workers’ homes, families and communities. exposed,” Ceballos said at a university. Press release.

Adding to the problem, many construction workers live in deprived communities or substandard housing that may already contain toxic metals, Ceballos said.

“Given the complexity of these issues, we need action on all fronts – not just policies, but also resources and education for these families,” she concluded.

More information

There’s more on toxic metals at the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

SOURCE: Boston University School of Medicine, press release, February 18, 2022

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