Twenty-six tons of lead oxide used per year in wooden boat building and repairing in southern Thailand
In southern Thailand, the wooden boat building and repair industry uses powdered lead oxide (Pb3O4, or red lead) in the caulking process. This had been shown to be a significant source of contamination in the workplace and the communities. This cross-sectional study was conducted to estimate the amount of lead oxide used in the region and to document the management of hazardous waste product in this industry. All boatyards in southern Thailand registered to the Ministry of Industry were visited with walk-through observation. After consent, questionnaire-based interviews were conducted among workers and boatyard owners who rented out the space for building and repairing the boats. Of the 63 active boatyards identified, approximately 26 tons of lead oxide was used to repair approximately 8,000 boats each year. Due to the casual employment system in this industry, no facility for the protection of workers and the environment from lead contamination exists. The findings indicate the need for further studies on the extent of contamination in the broader area. Intervention programmes are also urgently needed to reduce the release of this hazardous waste into the community.
KeywordsBoatyard Caulking Lead contamination Lead oxide Southern Thailand
The authors gratefully acknowledge all boatyards in southern Thailand for their willing cooperation in this study. This work has been supported by the Institute of Research and Development for Health of southern Thailand. The study was a part of the second author’s thesis to fulfill the requirements for Master of Science in Occupational Health and Safety, Prince of Songkla University.
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