Risk factors for high blood lead levels among the general populationin Taiwan


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Abstract

PurposeEnvironmental and occupational lead pollution is a common problem in both developing and industrialized countries. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the risk factors for high blood lead levels among the general population in Taiwan.MethodsAfter multi-stage sampling, we randomly selected 2803 subjects (1471 males and 1332 females) for this study. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the risk of high blood lead. To control for differences in age and gender, all analyses were with age-adjusted and gender-stratified.ResultsAmong males, the mean age is 46 years (15 to 85 years), mean and median blood lead levels is 7.3 and 6.3μg/dl, respectively. Among females, the mean age is 43 years (15 to 84 years), mean and median blood lead level is 5.7 and 4.8μg/dl, respectively. Among males, the history of herbal drug use, drinking water from well or spring sources, and occupational lead exposure are significantly different between relatively high and normal blood lead level subjects. The history of occupational lead exposure, history of herbal drug use, and well or spring sources of drinking water are the major risk factors for high blood lead with odds ratio of 4.62 (95% CI: 2.82–7.55), 3.09 (95% CI: 1.60–5.97), 2.06 (95% CI: 1.13–3.76), and 2.37 (95% CI: 1.39–4.04), respectively. Among females, these characteristics remain important except the sources of drinking water. The history of herbal drug use and occupational lead exposure become the major risk factors for high blood lead with odds ratio of 2.94 (95% CI: 1.26–6.88) and 7.72 (95% CI: 3.51–16.99), respectively. In multivariate logistic regression analyses, we find that the risk factors for high blood lead in both genders include a history of herbal drug use and occupational lead exposure. Among males, the drinking water sources and factories in the neighboring areas are also significant factors for high blood lead.ConclusionsFor the goal of reducing prevalence of high blood lead by the year 2000, the improvement and monitoring of the working environment, the careful attention to herbal drug use and the lead-free drinking water sources should be executed as thoroughly as possible to reduce the probability of lead pollution.

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