Award Date

December 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Environmental and Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Shawn Gerstenberger

Second Committee Member

Chad Cross

Third Committee Member

Maxim Gakh

Fourth Committee Member

Xan Goodman

Number of Pages



Workers in the manufacturing and construction industries are at risk of lead exposure in projects that involve removal or installation of tiles, and other individuals exposed to lead, including children may also be at risk. The concern with lead in tiles is thought to be related to the glazing process or the country where the tile was produced. Multiple regulations are in place in the U.S. to protect people from lead exposure, including through surface coatings or painted surfaces. But these regulations do not cover glazed tiles. This study examined whether there are differences in lead concentration in (1) tiles from foreign countries compared to the U.S. and (2) glazed tile finishes compared to unglazed finishes using the 200 best-selling tiles from two major home improvement stores and tile specialty stores. A total of 191 tiles were examined to determine their lead concentrations for XRF readings, 16 tiles were examined for dust hazards, and 45 tiles were examined for debris lead concentrations. The study relied on three different methods to test for lead: (1) initial screening utilizing the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), (2) lead dust sampling of intact tiles, and (3) sampling lead concentration in the demolished tiles. The results from the XRF readings among countries did not differ. The concentration of lead in the dust samples showed that tiles manufactured in South and Central America (n=6) contained higher concentrations of lead (10+ mg/cm2) than those manufactured in Europe (n=1) and Asia (n=0), but not higher than those manufactured in the U.S. (n=3). Of the 191 dust samples collected 10/191(5.2%) exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Dust-Lead Clearance Levels (DLCL) of 10 mg/cm2. The concentrations of lead in the debris samples showed that tiles manufactured in Asia (n=8) and Europe (n=0) were statistically significant, but there were no significant differences among Central and South America (n=1) or the U.S. (n=6). The results from the XRF showed that glazed tiles compared to those that were unglazed were not significantly different (p=0.454). Analysis of the dust samples for glazed and unglazed tiles did not differ (p=0.234). Similarly, the debris samples for glazed and unglazed tiles did not differ (p=0.611). The study found that 5.2% of dust samples exceeded the DLCL standards of 10 mg/ft2, straight from the packaging. This was concerning if a HUD home inspection would have been conducted for presence of lead-based paint hazards, the clearance would have failed, deeming the home unsafe for the occupants to return as well as for entry by unprotected workers. It is imperative that the EPA’s dust-lead hazard standards be implemented for tiles. It is also imperative to amend the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to also include tiles to prevent further exposure of lead.


Ceramic and porcelain tiles; Country of origin; Glazing; Lead concentrations; Manufacturing and construction industries


Environmental Health | Environmental Health and Protection | Public Health

File Format


File Size

1640 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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