Relationship between Lead Mining and Blood Lead Levels in Children

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The authors studied blood lead levels of 226 randomly selected children, aged 6-92 mo, who lived in either a lead-mining area or a nonmining area, and 69 controls. The authors sought to determine to what extent mining activities contributed to blood lead levels in the children. The mean blood lead levels in the study and control groups were 6.52 µg/dl and 3.43 µg/dl, respectively. The corresponding proportions of children with elevated blood lead levels were 17% and 3%. Soil and dust lead levels were up to 10 times higher in the study than the control group. Elevated blood lead levels appeared to result from exposure to both lead-mining waste and lead-based paint. Mining waste was the cause of the higher prevalence of elevated blood lead levels in these children.

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