Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
Abstract A survey was conducted to determine the distribution and determinants of environmental and blood lead levels near a conventional and several cottage lead smelters and to assess the relationship between environmental and blood lead levels in a tropical, developing-country setting. Fifty-eight households were studied in the Red Pond community, the site of the established smelter and several backyard smelters, and 21 households were studied in the adjacent, upwind Ebony Vale community in Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica. Households were investigated, using questionnaires, soil and housedust lead measurements, and blood lead (PbB) measurements from 372 residents. Soil lead levels in Red Pond exceeded 500 parts per million (ppm) at 24% of households (maximum-18,600 ppm), compared to 0% in Ebony Vale (maximum 150 ppm). Geometric mean PbB in Red Pond, where 44% of children 〈6 years of age had PbB levels ≥ 25 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL), was more than twice that Ebony Vale in all age groups (p 〈 0.0005). Within Red Pond, proximity to backyard smelters and to the conventional smelter were independent predictors of soil lead (p 〈 0.05). Soil lead was the strongest predictor of PbB among Red Pond subjects under 12 years of age. The blood lead-soil lead relationship in children differed from that reported in developed countries; blood lead levels were higher than expected for the household-specific soil lead levels that were observed. These data indicate that cottage lead smelters, like conventional ones, are a hazard for nearby residents and that children exposed to lead contamination in tropical, developing countries may be at higher risk for developing elevated blood lead levels than similarly-exposed children in developed countries.
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