Human exposure to heavy metals in the vicinity of Portuguese solid waste incinerators--Part 3: biomonitoring of Pb in blood of children under the age of 6 years.Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2007 May; 210(3-4):455-9.IJ
As a part of environmental health surveillance programs related to Portuguese solid waste incinerators (SWI), two biomonitoring projects have been established to investigate additional exposure to lead in children under the age of 6 years living in the vicinity of those facilities. The above-mentioned programs, being the only ones in the country that integrate systematic observations on human exposure to heavy metals, have to provide systematic data from Portuguese regions on the extent and pattern of human exposure to heavy metals, namely to lead. The present paper is the third of a series of papers prepared to accomplish that objective in regards to lead exposure as evaluated by measuring lead levels in children under the age of 6 years. Altogether, 250 children from Lisbon and 247 from Madeira Island have already been involved in the investigation. The present study evaluates spatial and temporal trends of lead exposure, based on comparisons of children's blood lead levels, either stratified by living area (exposed and control groups), or by time of exposure (T0, the baseline time, and T1, after approximately 2 years of regular operation of the facilities). The results obtained correspond to a relatively reduced number of individuals. Possibly for this reason, they are not fully conclusive in relation to whether living in the vicinity of SWI represents an additional risk of higher exposure to lead. Time trends of lead exposure as evaluated by blood lead levels in children also do not show any clear pattern. These conclusions and the fact that altogether around 3% of children from the whole group have blood lead levels >or=10 microg/dl warrant further investigation in order to clarify the contribution of incinerator emissions to the levels of lead in children and to identify alternative sources for preventive purposes, taking into consideration the relevance of even low lead exposure from a public health perspective, mainly in relation to children.