Katanga - Manufacture and use of artisanal cookware, an important route of lead (Pb) exposure in the former Katanga province (Congo)

Last updated on 28-8-2023 by Heidi Demaegdt
Project duration:
March 23, 2020
Project with no end date

In short

The reductions in the use of lead in gasoline, paint, plumbing and solder have resulted in substantial reductions in lead levels in the blood. However, significant sources of exposure to lead still remain, particularly in developing countries. Numerous recent reports document the widespread persistence of elevated blood lead levels in low and middle-income countries with children remaining the most vulnerable. The objective of this study is to assess the exposure to lead and other trace elements among artisanal workers, and their families, involved in manufacturing cookware from scrap metal. 

Project description

Artisanal cookware manufacturing has intensified in recent years in developing countries, exposing artisan workers and the local communities to possible toxic concentrations of trace elements. In this project, we studied both the hazards of using this cookware as the exposure during manufacturing

We visited six informal foundries, manufacturing cookware using recycled scrap metal in two neighbourhoods of Lubumbashi, capital of the former Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We purchased a total of nine cookware samples from these foundries. In addition, we collected metal dust resulting from filing kitchen utensils, a sample of metal used to seal imperfections in some pans and a sample of malleable metal used to fill holes in cookware. 

The results show high migration of lead (Pb) and other metals in food and food simulants. We also assessed metal exposure via biomonitoring among artisans making such cookware as compared to positive and negative controls. The results demonstrate substantial exposure to lead (Pb) and various trace metals.

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

Service(s) working on this project


Erik Smolders
Carsi Kuhangana Trésor

Financial Source

QR code

QR code for this page URL