Chemicals in workers’ blood

Workers are absorbing ever increasing levels of organic, inorganic and industrial chemicals, including heavy metals like lead, manganese and chromium.

Legislation alone does not protect workers against hazardous exposure, reported Dr Murray Coombs at the ICOH International Congress of Occupational Health in Cape Town in March.

Tighter legislation had to be combined with continuous preventive actions, like H&S management system administration, personal protective equipment, engineering controls, enforcement and reporting, he proposed.

Dr Coombs spoke of an “ever increasing body burden of chemicals” that “would leave a long trail of occupational disease in its wake”.

The new bio-monitoring report presents the results of blood samples taken between 1993 and 2007, testing for more than 120 chemicals.

Dr Coombs calls upon national stakeholders to share information, best practice, and exposure prevention solutions, within a formalised, statutory framework. He is a member of the Responsible Care Voluntary Advisory Forum.

For a copy of the bio-monitoring report, contact Janine Mileham at

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