Metal Concentrations in Newcomer Women and Environmental Exposures: A Scoping Review
BACKGROUND International marriage has had a rapid growth in recent years in Taiwan. However, little is known about the blood lead levels and DNA damage levels among immigrant women from resource-limited countries. OBJECTIVE This study (a) explored differences between immigrant women and native women in demographic characteristics, blood lead levels, and DNA damage levels, and (b) identified risk factors that are associated with blood lead concentrations and DNA damage levels after immigration. METHODS We used a structured questionnaire to collect data on socio-demographic status from (a) 71 immigrant women who had resettled in 2006 in Taichung, Taiwan and (b) 83 native women who live in the same area. Each study participant provided blood samples for lead and metal measurements, complete blood count examination, and the comet assay to measure degree of DNA damage. RESULTS Immigrant women had higher mean blood lead concentration (2.23+/-1.63 vs. 1.63+/-1.00 microg/dl; p=0.04) and lower mean blood zinc level (6.22+/-2.22 vs. 6.89+/-2.44 mg/l; p=0.07) than native women. Resettlement time was a determinant to decrease blood lead and DNA damage levels among immigrants in Taiwan. Multiple linear regression analysis confirmed a statistically significant association between blood lead level and DNA damage, while zinc had a protective effect. CONCLUSIONS Public health agencies should focus on primary prevention and providing screening programs for this vulnerable population. An immigrant women's cohort should been established to follow-up and improve for elevated lead exposure families.