Lalor, Gerald C.; Rattray, Robin ; Vutchkov, Mitko K. ; Campbell, B. ; Lewis-Bell, K.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
International Centre for Environmental Sciences
Blood lead levels in Jamaican school children
Science of Total Environment
Date of Publication
Blood lead levels are reported for a total of 421 schoolchildren in 13 schools in rural and urban environments in Jamaica, including one highly contaminated community. In the rural areas blood lead levels ranged from 3 to 28.5 microg dl(-1), with a median of 9.2 microg dl(- 1); the range and median in the urban schools were 4-34.7 and 16.6 microg dl(-1), respectively. Forty-two percent of the rural and 71% of the urban blood lead levels exceeded the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intervention level of 10 microg dl(-1). Except in the contaminated area, the relationship between soil lead levels, which in Jamaica are in general typical of tropical lateritic soils, and blood lead levels is not clear-cut. Very high blood lead levels of 18 to > 60 microg dl(-1) with a median of 35 microg dl(-1) were observed among children in the contaminated area, the site of a former lead ore processing plant. These high blood lead levels were significantly reduced, by the implementation of relatively simple mitigation strategies which involved isolation of the lead, education, and a food supplementation programme, to levels similar to those observed in the urban schools. These values, however, remain higher than are desirable and unfortunately, all the sources of lead are not yet identified. The recent discontinuation of the use of leaded petrol is expected to result in significant reductions in exposure to lead.....