High precision lead isotope ratios in blood from 58 children aged 1-11 years from the Broken Hill lead mining community have been measured to determine the source and pathways of lead in their blood. Sources of lead are from the Pb-Zn-Ag orebody (lead), from paint and from petrol. Thirty-five of the 58 children (60%) had blood leads (PbB) ≥0.72 μmol/l (15 μg/dl), the current level of 'personal exposure and source remediation/abatement' compared with a 'background' level of ~0.29 μmol/l (6 μg/dl), estimated from adult females who were generally mothers of the children. Six of 17 children aged 7 years or older, had PbBs ≥ 0.72 μmol/l (15 μg/dl). Even though the orebody lead is the major contributor to PbB in Broken Hill children, of the 35 children whose PbB is ≥0.72 μm/l (15 μg/dl), 12 (34%) have ~50% or more of their PbB derived from sources such as paint and petrol or both by isotopic identification. The identification of elevated PbB in older children is a concern, especially for females, as there is potential for release of endogenous lead during pregnancy and lactation.
Bibliographical noteCorrigendum can be found in The Science of the Total Environment, 191(3), pages 299-301, 1996, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0048-9697(96)05307-7
- lead mine
- young children