Lead poisoning among young children in Russia: concurrent evaluation of childhood lead exposure in Ekaterinburg, Krasnouralsk, and Volgograd.
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Lead poisoning among young children in Russia: concurrent evaluation of childhood lead exposure in Ekaterinburg, Krasnouralsk, and Volgograd.

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    • Alternative Title:
      Environ Health Perspect
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      The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission encouraged a binational collaboration to evaluate pediatric lead poisoning in Russia. The study evaluated children in three Russian cities: Krasnouralsk, a small city with minimal traffic centered around a copper smelter; and Ekaterinburg and Volgograd, both of which are large cities with multiple factories and heavy vehicular traffic. This project was the first international use of portable blood lead analysis instruments. In each city, at least 90% of children attending selected neighborhood kindergartens participated. We selected kindergartens on the basis of their proximity to industrial areas and major traffic corridors. We obtained capillary blood samples and analyzed for lead content and hemoglobin (Hgb) levels in the field, and collected environmental samples (i.e., indoor dust, tap water, play area soil, and interior and exterior paint) and analyzed for each participating school and in the homes of about 10% of the children who had elevated blood lead levels (BLLs; greater than or equal to 10 microg/dL). We calculated all age-, sex-, and city-specific geometric means using generalized estimating equations to account for covariance within kindergartens, and used multivariate logistic regression models to identify variables predictive of elevated BLLs. Overall, 23% of study children had elevated BLLs and 2% were anemic, defined as Hgb < 11 g/dL. Krasnouralsk had the highest geometric mean BLL (10.7 microg/dL), the highest percentage of children (60%) with elevated BLLs, and the highest percentage of anemic children (4%). All soil samples in Krasnouralsk had detectable lead levels. Volgograd was the only city that had paint samples with elevated lead levels. We found apparent city-specific differences in the percentages of children with elevated BLLs. Lead-contaminated soil and dust, which can result from lead-based automotive fuel and from lead-related industrial emissions, appear to be the most important routes of lead exposure of those evaluated in this study. Elevated lead levels found in paint samples from Volgograd may indicate old undercoats of lead-based paint that could represent a regionally rather than nationally important source of exposure.
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