Project Info

Construction Workers Poisoned by Inorganic Lead

Five workers were jack hammering a thick concrete slab inside a shop being renovated under the Queensboro Bridge in Manhattan. After several days of breaking the concrete, workers became sick and reported the condition to their physician. After conducting preliminary tests, the workers were diagnosed with lead poisoning. Research began to determine the source of the exposure. After collecting soil samples from the dirt below the concrete and evaluating the source of the exposure, the lead levels in soil were significantly elevated and considered harmful without the use of mechanical filtered respirators, personal protective clothing, proper decontamination and shower procedures, medical surveillance, and training and education of the hazard. The source of the lead came from automobile exhaust from years of operating cars with leaded gasoline and leaded paint chips/flakes from the bridge surfaces after years of repeated renovations and lack of environmental controls. The emissions from the cars condensed and accumulations of lead particulate from the paint coatings settled on the ground around the bridge. A concrete slab was poured over the contaminated area without checking for possible inorganic lead in the soil. The contractor workforce was unaware of the potential problem when work began to remove the slab. The architect and engineering firm assigned to the project was aware of the possible situation but failed to inform anyone. All five workers were never able to return to work and placed on permanent disability. One worker subsequently died as a result of the lead exposure.
New York
New York
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Shops Under Queensboro Bridge

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