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Sci Total Environ. 2014 Oct 15;496:339-347. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.07.016. Epub 2014 Aug 1.

Lead exposure from aluminum cookware in Cameroon.

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Department of Chemistry, Geology & Physics, 401 College Ave., Ashland University, Ashland, OH 44805, USA.
Research and Education Centre for Development (CREPD), Yaounde, Cameroon.
Occupational Knowledge International, San Francisco, CA, USA. Electronic address:


Blood lead levels have decreased following the removal of lead from gasoline in most of the world. However, numerous recent studies provide evidence that elevated blood lead levels persist in many low and middle-income countries around the world at much higher prevalence than in the more developed countries. One potential source of lead exposure that has not been widely investigated is the leaching of lead from artisanal aluminum cookware, which is commonly used in the developing world. Twenty-nine samples of aluminum cookware and utensils manufactured by local artisans in Cameroon were collected and analyzed for their potential to release lead during cooking. Source materials for this cookware included scrap metal such as engine parts, radiators, cans, and construction materials. The lead content of this cookware is relatively low (<1000 ppm by X-ray fluorescence), however significant amounts of lead, as well as aluminum and cadmium were released from many of the samples using dilute acetic acid extractions at boiling and ambient temperatures. Potential exposures to lead per serving were estimated to be as high as 260 μg, indicating that such cookware can pose a serious health hazard. We conclude that lead, aluminum and cadmium can migrate from this aluminum cookware during cooking and enter food at levels exceeding recommended public health guidelines. Our results support the need to regulate lead content of materials used to manufacture these pots. Artisanal aluminum cookware may be a major contributor to lead poisoning throughout the developing world. Testing of aluminum cookware in other developing countries is warranted.


Aluminum; Cadmium; Children's health; Cookware; Developing nations; Lead; Potential lead exposures

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