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Med J Aust. 1986 Dec 1-15;145(11-12):635-9.

Lead intoxication in paint removal workers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


Lead intoxication is far more prevalent than is recognized by those persons who are exposed to lead fumes and dust in industry, as the early symptoms of intoxication are subtle and non-specific. The levels of lead in blood are a poor reflection of lead stores in the body and their potential toxicity, but are used frequently as the only test for screening of lead intoxication. Chelation of lead with calcium-EDTA is a more sensitive test to detect those persons who are at risk of toxicity. Industrial workers who are exposed regularly to lead must be screened on a periodic basis and a diagnosis of lead poisoning must be considered if substantial morbidity is to be avoided. We report six cases of men with significant lead intoxication who were employed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, all of whom have benefited symptomatically from calcium-EDTA chelation therapy.

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