Blood Lead Levels and Risk Factors for Lead Poisoning among Children in a Mexican Smelting Community

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ABSTRACT.The authors evaluated mean blood lead levels (BLLs) and the prevalence of elevated BLLs in children 1-6 yr of age living in Torreón, Mexico, and assessed risk factors for lead exposure in these children. The study involved a simple random sample of households in the area around a local smelter, as well as a 2-stage cluster sample of neighborhoods and households in the remainder of Torreón. The geometric mean BLL of children in this study (N = 367) was 6.0 μg/dl (95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.2, 6.8) (0.29 μM/l [95% CI = 0.25, 0.33]). Twenty percent of the children had BLLs ≥ 10 μg/dl (0.48 μM/l), and 5% had BLLs ≥ 20 μg/dl (0.97 μM/l). In multivariate analyses, distance from the smelter, amount of income, and education level of the primary caregiver predicted BLLs. In the environmental risk factor subsample (n = 124), dust and soil lead levels were associated with BLLs and distance from the smelter. BLLs in this study were moderately high, but the levels were lower than those in other smelting communities prior to remediation.

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