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Environ Health Perspect. Nov 1999; 107(11): 917–920.
PMCID: PMC1566703
Research Article

Follow-up screening of lead-poisoned children near an auto battery recycling plant, Haina, Dominican Republic.

Abstract

In August 1997 we performed a follow-up survey of 146 lead-poisoned children from a community near a previously active auto battery recycling smelter in Haina near Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Our follow-up survey confirmed a severe incidence of elevated blood lead (BPb) and erythrocyte protoporphyrin/zinc protoporphyrin (EP-ZnPP) levels. The mean BPb level was 32 micrograms/dL and the mean EP-ZnPP level was 128 micrograms/dL. The frequency distribution of BPb showed that only 9% of the children had BPb levels below the currently acceptable 10 micrograms/dL threshold level, 23% had between 10 and 19 micrograms/dL, 40% had between 20 and 39 micrograms/dL, 27% had between 40 and 99 micrograms/dL, and the remainder had > 100 micrograms/dL. These findings are significantly greater than the mean BPb and EP-ZnPP levels of 14 and 35 micrograms/dL, respectively, in a comparison group of 63 children in Barsequillo, 4 miles away. BPb frequency distributions for these groups were < 10 micrograms/dL (42%), 10-19 micrograms/dL (32%), and 20-39 micrograms/dL (16%); in the remaining 10%, BPb levels were between 40 and 99 micrograms/dL. Similarly, the corresponding frequency distribution of EP-ZnPP levels in Haina children were proportional to the severity of lead poisoning and significantly higher than those of the Barsequillo comparison group. This study reveals that at least 28% of Haina children require immediate treatment; of these, 5% with lead levels > 70 micrograms/dL are also at risk for severe neurologic sequelae, and urgent action is imperative.

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