Environmental research

Epidemiological-environmental study of lead acid battery workers. III. Chronic effects of sulfuric acid on the respiratory system and teeth.

PMID 6386452


The effects of long-term exposure to sulfuric acid mist on the teeth and respiratory system were studied in 248 workers in five plants manufacturing lead acid batteries. The prevalence of cough, phlegm, dyspnea, and wheezing as determined by questionnaire were not associated with estimates of cumulative acid exposure. There was only one case of irregular opacities seen on the chest radiographs. There was no statistically significant association of reduced FEV1, peak flow, FEF50, and FEF75 with acid exposure although the higher exposed group had lower mean values. FVC in the high exposure group showed a statistically significant reduction compared to the low exposure group, but there was no significant association when exposure was analyzed as a continuous variable. The ratio of observed to expected prevalence of teeth etching and erosion was about four times greater in the high acid-exposure group. The earliest case of etching occurred after 4 months exposure to an estimated average exposure of 0.23 mg/m3 sulfuric acid.