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Sci Total Environ. 1996 Mar 15;181(2):93-100.

Childhood lead poisoning in Africa: a growing public health problem.

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Department of Environmental and Industrial Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-2029, USA.


Gasoline sold in most African countries contain 0.5-0.8 g/l lead. In urban and rural areas and near mining centers, average lead concentrations reach 0.5-3.0 mu g/m3 in the atmosphere and > 1000 mu g/g in dust and soils. In addition to automotive and industrial sources, cottage industries and the burning of paper products, discarded rubber, battery casings and painted woods for cooking and heating represent additional hazards to individual households. Lead paint, lead solder and lead cosmetics are unregulated in some countries. Although African children are particularly predisposed to environmental lead exposure, because of their lifestyle and socioecological factors, a true picture of childhood lead poisoning in the continent remains undefined. Recent prevalence studies show that over 90% of the children in urban and rural communities of the Cape Province, South Africa have blood lead levels > or = 10 mu g/dl. Studies in other countries likewise suggest that childhood lead poisoning is a widespread urban health problem throughout the continent.

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