Assessment of potters’ occupational exposure to lead and associated risk factors in Maragogipinho, Brazil: preliminary results


Background and purpose

Lead (Pb) is used as a flux in the glazing process of pottery utensils in several regions of the world. It can affect the nervous and hematopoietic systems; in addition, it is classified as a probable human carcinogen. This work aims to evaluate Pb exposure of potters and describe the main determinants of elevated blood Pb (PbB) levels in this group of workers.


This is a cross-sectional study with potters of Maragogipinho Village, Bahia, Brazil, of both sexes, aged 16–72 years (n = 85). Non-exposed workers of the same age range residing in the urban area of Aratuípe town were also recruited (n = 50). We evaluated Pb dust deposition rates (PbDrt) in pottery workshops and PbB levels. All Pb measurements were performed by Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometry.


The median of PbB (min–max) and geometric mean (SD) PbDrt for the exposed group were 7.9 (0.9–49.8) µg/dL and 1463 (± 290,000) μg/m2/30 days, respectively. For the control group, levels were 1.5 (0.1–19.8) μg/dL and 82 (46) μg/m2 30 days, respectively.


The data found showed an excessive exposure among artisans, exceeding occupationally safe levels and those reported in the literature. It is important to implement occupational hygiene measures and improvements of the working conditions of these labors, especially the replacement of lead oxide in the pottery-glazing process.

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Availability of data and material

Data will be made available upon reasonable request.

Code availability

Not applicable.


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This work was funded by Grants from the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado da Bahia (FAPESB): SUS0040/2018, thus we are thankful for the support that made this work possible. We would also like to acknowledge the artisans and workers who agreed to participate and engage in the study.


This work was funded by Grants from the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado da Bahia (FAPESB): SUS0040/2018.

Author information




José Antonio Menezes-Filho got funding and along with Matheus de Jesus Bandeira conceived the study design. Material preparation, data collection and/or laboratory analysis were performed by all the authors. Data analyses were performed by José Antonio Menezs-Filho and Matheus de Jesus Bandeira. The first draft of the manuscript was prepared by Matheus de Jesus Bandeira, and José Antonio Menezes-Filho reviewed, edited and commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to José A. Menezes-Filho.

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The authors declare no conflict of interests.

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All the procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This project was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the College of Pharmacy of the Federal University of Bahia, No 3.088.151/2018.

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de J. Bandeira, M., dos Santos, N.R., Cardoso, M.S. et al. Assessment of potters’ occupational exposure to lead and associated risk factors in Maragogipinho, Brazil: preliminary results. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2021).

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  • Lead
  • Pottery
  • Occupational health
  • Metal exposure
  • Settled dust