A task-based approach to assessing lead exposure among iron workers engaged in bridge rehabilitation

Mark Goldberg, Stephen M. Levin, John T. Doucette, Geraldine Griffin

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36 Scopus citations


The assessment of worker exposures to airborne contaminants in the dynamic environment present at most construction sites poses considerable challenges to the industrial hygienist. In this study, we applied a task- based approach to the assessment of lead exposure among structural steel iron workers engaged in a large, complex bridge rehabilitation project. We evaluated the usefulness of task-based exposure data for the development of worker protection programs. Task-specific and multitask samples were collected, and operation-specific and 8-hr time-weighted averages were calculated. The task-specific data showed significant differences in exposure levels among different tasks. Arithmetic mean exposures varied from 1,357 μ/m 3 lead for torch cutting and 989 μ/m 3 for scaling to 31 μ/m 3 for reaming and 4 μ/m 3 for drilling. Our task-specific data were compared with the task-based exposure levels presented by OSHA in its Lead Exposure in Construction-Interim Final Rule (29 CFR 1926). There was good general agreement between our results and OSHA's reported data. Task-based data were very useful in exposure assessment and much more precise than full-shift and operation-based measurements in guiding strategies for worker protection. These findings suggest that task-based data should routinely be collected in evaluating exposure to lead and perhaps other toxic substances in construction work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-318
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • OSHA lead standard
  • construction industry
  • lead exposure
  • task-based assessment


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