Blood lead levels of Jamaican children island-wide.Sci Total Environ. 2007 Mar 15; 374(2-3):235-41.ST
An island-wide survey of 1081 basic school children, mainly in the age group 2-6 years, is reported. The range of blood lead levels (BLLs) was 1.4 to 202 microg/dL with arithmetic and geometric means of 7.3 microg/dL (standard deviation, 13 microg/dL) and 4.35 microg/dL respectively. Two hundred and thirty children were identified with blood lead levels above 10 microg/dL and among these, 80 were provided with medical attention and of eleven who received chelation, six children were desperately ill from acute lead poisoning necessitating repeated sessions of chelation therapy. The higher blood lead values were found mainly in poor areas of the urban Kingston and St. Andrew Corporate Area, and in St. Catherine where there remain observable though reduced effects from a lead-contaminated area. Environmental interventions, including building an increased national awareness, have also been carried out to reduce the immediate and future dangers of lead poisoning. The most important source of the lead exposure is the recovery of lead from old automobile batteries and even a quite small smelter can contaminate a significant area. Further work is in progress to identify and examine historical and active smelter sites, their possible effects on childhood health, and their remediation.