Elevated blood lead levels among children living in a fishing community, Karachi, Pakistan

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Lead is a widespread environmental contaminant worldwide and is associated with adverse outcomes in children, including impaired neurobehavioral development and learning difficulties. A cross-sectional survey of 53 young children was conducted in a fishing village on an island adjacent to Karachi, Pakistan. Whole blood from each individual was tested for lead levels. Also tested were samples of cooked food, house dust, and drinking water from 36 households. Laboratory determinations were made by the Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research with quality control by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifty-two subjects (98%) had blood lead levels above 10 microg/dl (mean 21.60 microg/dl), an internationally recognized threshold for potential neurotoxicity. The mean concentration was 3.90 microg/g in cooked food, 4.02 microg/l in drinking water, and 91.30 microg/g in house dust. These findings indicate possible major health concerns and suggest significant environmental contamination in this community as well as the need to identify locally relevant early childhood exposures.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Archives of Environmental Health