Occupational exposure to heavy metals in a metal-mechanical auto part manufacturing plant in Puebla, Mexico

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences, School of Sciences, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, México


Aims: The concentration of Cd, Cr, Al and Pb present in inhalable air and deposited dust in a metal-mechanical parts manufacturing plant in Puebla, México were determined in order to assess the occupational exposure of workers in this plant. Materials and Methods: Fourteen air samples, six from the metal welding (MW) and eight from the metal forming (MF) areas, as well as metal dust accumulated on the floor of an auto part manufacturing plant, were collected. Sampling and analysis followed the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended methods for metals in inhalable air. Results: The average concentration of Al and Cd determined in a volume of inhalable air were adequate under NIOSH maximal exposure concentration limits in both sampled sites. Average concentrations of 0.001 (MF sampling site) and 0.105 μg/L (MW sampling site) for Al; 0.003 (MF) and 0.0005 (MW) μg/L for Cd, with respect to the NIOHS limits, 10 and 0.005 μg/L, for Al and Cd, respectively. However, Cr and Pb concentrations exceeded or were close to the limits recommended by NIOHS in both places (0.5 and 0.05 μg/L for Cr and Pb, respectively). Average concentrations of 0.345 (MF) and 0.77 (MW) μg/L for Cr and 0.153 (MF) and 0.649 (MW) μg/L for Pb, were determined. Levels of metal content (Cd, Cr and Pb) in powder samples collected in both sampling sites were also higher than the suggested limits. Conclusion: The average concentration of Cr and Pb exceeded the limits recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and NIOSH for inhalable air in the workplace. Workers may be on risk of heavy metal occupational exposure. It is endorsed to implement safety measurements to avoid the breathing of contaminated air and also industrial level systems for dust and aerosol particle filtering or precipitation, altogether with stricter policies to regulate heavy metal exposure at these industries.


Volume 4, April
April 2014
Pages 1-6
  • Receive Date: 31 January 2023
  • Accept Date: 31 January 2023