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Sci Total Environ. 2009 Apr 1;407(8):2836-44. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.12.059. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Lead (II) detection and contamination routes in environmental sources, cookware and home-prepared foods from Zimatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Author information

1
Environmental Bio-Geochemistry Group, LAFQA, Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico. mar.villa@stanfordalumni.org

Abstract

An interdisciplinary investigation, involving environmental geochemists, epidemiologists, nurses, and anthropologists, was undertaken to determine the contamination source and pathway of an on-going outbreak of lead poisoning among migrants originating from Zimatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico and living in Seaside, California, and among their US-born children. An initial investigation in Seaside identified grasshopper foodstuff ("chapulines") imported from Mexico and consumed as snacks, as containing alarmingly high lead concentrations (up to 2300 mg/kg). The focus in the present work concentrates on the Oaxacan area of origin of the problem in Mexico, and two potential sources of contamination were investigated: wind-borne dusts from existing mine residues as potential contaminants of soil, plant, and fauna; and food preparation practices using lead-glazed ceramic cookware. Over a three year period, sampling was conducted in Oaxaca using community-level sampling and also targeted sampling with families of cases with lead poisoning in California. In addition to fresh field chapulines, we analyzed for total lead: soil, water, mine residues, and plant materials, both from areas adjacent to or at an abandoned waste site containing mine tailings, and from fields where chapulines are collected; foodstuffs gathered in community markets or in a food transport business; and foodstuffs and cookware gathered from relatives of case families in California. Also, selected new and used lead-glazed clay cookware was extracted for lead, using 0.02 M citric acid and with 4% acetic acid. The results indicated significant presence of lead in mine wastes, in specific foodstuffs, and in glazed cookware, but no extensive soil contamination was identified. In-situ experiments demonstrated that lead incorporation in food is made very efficient through grinding of spices in glazed cookware, with the combination of a harsh mechanical action and the frequent presence of acidic lime juice, but without heating, resulting in high but variable levels of contamination.

PMID:
19185330
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.12.059
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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