Willi, RF; Felgenhauer, N; Eyer, F; Buters, JT; Zilker, T
[Lead intoxication in a group of workers in Germany]
HISTORY AND ADMISSION FINDINGS: Seventeen East-European workers with a suspected lead-intoxication presented themselves to the Department of Toxicology. All of them had worked on the renovation of pylons of a high-tension line. The old paint, known to contain lead was removed with needle descalers. The patients had blood lead concentrations between 325 and 1124 microg/l, but no specific symptoms. The workers neglected the protective measures at their working-place. INVESTIGATIONS: 12 of 17 workers had lead-concentrations above 400 microg/l (Reference< 90 microg/l). 10 of 17 patients showed an increased level of free protoporphyrins and all workers showed a decreased activity of delta-aminolaevulinacid-dehydratase (ALAD). TREATMENT AND COURSE: Patients with lead-concentration above 700 microg/l were treated with the chelating agent meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) 3 x 200 mg/d for nine days. The patients with lead concentrations between 400 and 700 microg/l were treated which DMSA 3 x 100 mg/d. After the DMSA-treatment the lead-concentrations had dropped (p< 0.001). During the DMSA-therapy one patient had to be treated in the hospital because of a generalised allergic exanthema. CONCLUSION: We report seventeen patients with high lead concentration in their blood due to occupational exposure. The high blood lead levels showed that the workers had not been protected adequately. This examplifies that occupational lead exposure still occurs, also in Germany. By patients with unspecific symptoms connected with lead exposure a biomonitoring for lead is necessary.