Low-level lead exposure and blood lead levels in children: a cross-sectional survey

Document Type



Pathology and Microbiology; Community Health Sciences; Haematology/Oncology


The authors studied 53 girls (44.5%) and 66 (55.5%) boys in Karachi, Pakistan, to determine their blood lead levels. The association between blood lead levels/water lead levels and the possible risk factors and symptoms associated with lead toxicity was explored. The mean lead level for the entire group was 7.9 microg/dl (standard deviation = 4.5 microg/dl). Thirty (25.2%) of the children had lead levels that exceeded 10 microg/dl; 12 (10.0%) of these had lead levels that exceeded 15 microg/dl. Thirteen (20.9%) of the children under the age of 6 yr (n = 62) had lead levels greater than 10 microg/dl, and 6 (9.6%) had levels in excess of 15 microg/dl. The authors found no association (p > .05) between high lead levels in water and blood lead levels in children. Mean blood lead levels were highest in the group of children exposed to various risk factors for lead absorption (e.g., exposure to paint, remodeling, and renovation; use of lead utensils; pica). There was a significant association between a history of exposure to paint/renovation activities and a history of pica. High blood lead levels in the children in Karachi stress the urgency for actions that control lead pollution. Screening programs should be instituted by the state. Individuals must become aware of lead's toxicity, and they must avoid substances that contain lead.


Archives of Environmental Health