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Acute Lead Poisoning Associated with Backyard Lead Smelting in Jamaica



Long term backyard smelting of lead in a district known as Mona Commons, Kingston, Jamaica, has produced lead burdens as high as 30 000 mg/kg in soils near to the smelter, and indoor dust loadings of 373 μg/f2 in the residents’ home. The blood lead levels (BPb) of 107 children from the district were in the range 2.2–202 μg/dL. Fifty-nine per cent of these had BPb levels above 10 μg/dL and the population mean was an unacceptably high 25.1 μg/dL. The highest levels were observed for five siblings, two of whom presented with lead encephalopathy. This severe chronic exposure to lead was exacerbated by a significant history of pica, and chronic nutritional anaemia. Chelation therapy significantly reduced the BPb levels but due to lead storage in other organs, the values after several months were still higher than desirable. This study emphasizes the importance of reducing the exposure of children to lead

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e-Published: 17 Jun, 2013
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