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Environ Monit Assess. 2016 Sep;188(9):505. doi: 10.1007/s10661-016-5491-0. Epub 2016 Aug 5.

Prenatal metal exposure in the Middle East: imprint of war in deciduous teeth of children.

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, P.O. Box 7038, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Basra Maternity Hospital, Basra Medical School, P.O. Box 1633, Basra, Iraq.
Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Lebanese University in Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
Dental Research Center, School of Dentistry, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.


In war zones, the explosion of bombs, bullets, and other ammunition releases multiple neurotoxicants into the environment. The Middle East is currently the site of heavy environmental disruption by massive bombardments. A very large number of US military bases, which release highly toxic environmental contaminants, have also been erected since 2003. Current knowledge supports the hypothesis that war-created pollution is a major cause of rising birth defects and cancers in Iraq. We created elemental bio-imaging of trace elements in deciduous teeth of children with birth defects from Iraq. Healthy and naturally shed teeth from Lebanon and Iran were also analyzed for trace elements. Lead (Pb) was highest in teeth from children with birth defects who donated their teeth from Basra, Iraq (mean 0.73-16.74 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm, n = 3). Pb in healthy Lebanese and Iranian teeth were 0.038-0.382 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm (n = 4) and 0.041-0.31 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm (n = 2), respectively. Our hypothesis that increased war activity coincides with increased metal levels in deciduous teeth is confirmed by this research. Lead levels were similar in Lebanese and Iranian deciduous teeth. Deciduous teeth from Iraqi children with birth defects had remarkably higher levels of Pb. Two Iraqi teeth had four times more Pb, and one tooth had as much as 50 times more Pb than samples from Lebanon and Iran.


Deciduous teeth; Iran; Iraq; Lead; Lebanon; Metal exposure; War-related pollution

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