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A characterization of community lead exposures in Jamaica.

Burr G; Matte T
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1997 May; :79
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), responding to a request from the Pan American Health Organization, assisted the Jamaican Ministry of Health (MOH) in assessing causes of lead poisoning near a conventional secondary lead smelter in Spanishtown, Jamaica. Fifty-eight households in a relatively poor community (Area 1) immediately surrounding the main lead smelter ("established" smelter), as well as several small "backyard" smelters operated by individual households, were investigated using questionnaires, soil and house dust lead measurements, and blood lead level (BLL) measurements. In addition, 21 households in an adjacent middle-class neighborhood (Area 2) were similarly studied. A total of 372 residents were tested. Soil lead concentrations in Area 1 exceeded 500 parts per million (ppm) at 24% of the households surveyed (maximum soil lead was 18,600 ppm). Soil lead concentrations in excess of 500 ppm have been associated with elevated BLLs in children. In comparison, the maximum soil lead was 150 ppm in Area 2. Concentrations of lead in surface dust collected from Area 1 households ranged from 50 to 294,680 micrograms per square meter (ug/m2). This compares to the much lower range of 20 to 338 ug/m2 of lead in dust collected from Area 2 homes. Dust levels were considered excessive if they exceeded 1500 ug/m2, a level associated with increased BLL levels in urban U.S. children. Peeling paint was observed at 27 residences in Area 1 (10 samples of paint from these homes exceeded 1 % lead by weight). In contrast, only one residence in Area 2 had peeling paint (this paint was lead-free). The geometric mean BLL level of all persons tested in Area 1 was more than twice that of those tested in Area 2 in all age groups (p<0.0005). In Area 1, 44% of children under age 6 years had BLLs of 25 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl) and above (range 5 to 98 ug/dL. Within Area 1, proximity to a backyard smelter, proximity and direction to the established smelter, and a history of solid waste contamination in a yard were independent predictors of soil lead (p<0.05). Soil lead was the strongest predictor of BLL among Area 1 subjects under 12 years of age, while lead smelter work was a more important predictor in older subjects. Elevated BLLs in children occurred at lower than expected soil lead levels.
Lead-poisoning; Exposure-levels; Humans; Men; Women; Children; Questionnaires; Hazards; Smelting; Smelters; Lead-dust; Dusts; Dust-exposure; Blood-samples; Soil-analysis; Soil-sampling; Statistical-analysis; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Air-contamination
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division