Childhood Lead Exposure from Battery Recycling in Vietnam
INTRODUCTION In the era post leaded-gasoline use, the risk of exposure to environmental lead in Thai children is not well described. This is a pilot study using a risk assessment questionnaire to identify children with elevated blood lead level. MATERIAL AND METHOD Children from 4 communities, 2 in the Bangkok metropolitan area and 2 in Kanchanaburi province, were recruited during their well child visits. Blood lead levels were obtained in all children and parents are asked to fill out a 25-item risk assessment questionnaire. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS The relationship between the blood lead level and dependent variables were tested using linear regression and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) as appropriate. RESULTS There were 296 children included in the study; 33 from Klong Toey and 114 from Siriraj community in Bangkok while 149 were from two different communities in Kanchanaburi province. The average blood lead level was 5.65 +/- 3.05 mcg/dL. The overall prevalence of children with blood lead level > 10 mcg/dL was 8.1%, while that of the Klong Toey community was 12.5%. The questionnaire identified 3 independent predictors of elevated blood lead levels; the presence of peeling paint in or outside the house, eating paints chips, and the geographic location of children. CONCLUSION Using a risk assessment questionnaire, together with obtaining blood lead level has proven effective in identifying key environmental features associated with elevated blood lead level in children from sampled Thai communities. The challenge now is to conduct a larger epidemiological study of a similar type in order to guide the screening and preventive efforts.