The association between cadmium and lead exposure and blood pressure among workers of a smelting industry: a cross-sectional study

Ann Occup Environ Med. 2017 Oct 4;29:47. doi: 10.1186/s40557-017-0202-z. eCollection 2017.


Background: Lead and cadmium are harmful heavy metals that are used for a variety of occupational purposes. Considering their potentially hazardous effects on health, studies on the association between exposure to these two heavy metals and health disorders have been actively conducted. This study aimed to determine the association between blood lead and cadmium levels and blood pressure in workers exposed to lead and cadmium in a smelter.

Methods: Nine hundred and sixty-three male workers who worked in a smelter, and underwent medical examinations at the Ulsan University Hospital between January 1 and December 31, 2014, were selected as participants. Among them, 310 subjects whose data on height, weight, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, lipid profile, and blood lead and cadmium levels were available and who answered the questionnaire were selected as the final participants. We investigated the drinking habit, smoking status, exercise adequacy, and family history of hypertension of these workers using formal questionnaires. A statistical analysis was conducted using Student's t-test, analysis of variance, and linear or logistic regression.

Results: The association between blood lead and cadmium levels and blood pressure was analyzed through statistical adjustment of the risk factors of hypertension. Results showed an association between blood cadmium level and blood pressure elevation. However, blood lead level was found to be not correlated with blood pressure elevation.

Conclusions: This study shows the association between blood cadmium level and systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) elevation.

Trial registration: IRB No. 2017-03-037. Retrospectively Registered 30 March 2017.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cadmium; Lead.