Sickness absence of lead workers and controls.
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Certificated sickness rates and levels of lead exposure of 955 men who worked in a lead accumulator factory during a period of seven years (1965-72) were examined. The men were divided by department into four exposure groups; a second division into three groups was made, based on the mean of each man's blood lead measurements during the study period. Absences showed no age pattern, but men who left during the seven years of observation (ex-workers) had had a higher absence rate (842 spells/1000 man years) than those still employed in 1972 (535 spells/1000 man years). There was no significant difference in absence rates or lengths of absences between differently exposed departments either for all causes or for a selected group of potentially lead-induced causes. However, the proportion of potentially lead-induced absences was significantly higher in ex-workers (12-2%) than in current workers (7-4%). Similar analysis showed no significant differences in absence rates of men with different blood lead levels. It was concluded that higher levels of lead exposure did not seem to be associated with higher rates of absence or longer absences either for all causes of absence combined or for those causes which might be attributable to lead.
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