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Sci Total Environ. 1996 Mar 15;181(2):101-9.

Childhood lead poisoning in China.

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  • 1Division of Lead Poisoning Prevention, Shanghai Institute for Pediatric Research, China.


In China, comprehensive epidemiological data relating to the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning are not available. However, existing data suggest that this disease may be widely pervasive as a result of rapid industrialization and the use of leaded gasoline. Seventeen publications have reported elevated blood lead levels in children from different areas of the country. Children residing in industrial and busy traffic areas had average blood lead levels(BPb) of 21.8-67.9 mu g/dl. The percentages of BPb values above 10 mu g/dl, which is the definition of lead poisoning in children, ranged from 64.9% to 99.5%. Even for 'unexposed' children, about 50% of them had BPb values above 10 mu g/dl. Furthermore, several retrospective pilot studies were conducted in Shanghai, Shenyang, Fuzhou and Beijing to evaluate the health effects of lead at current degree of exposure. The link between low-level lead exposure and deficits in IQ, neurobehavioral development and physical growth is remarkably consistent without exception. In summary, the harmful health effects of childhood lead poisoning in limited studies of exposed and 'unexposed' children demonstrate that this totally preventable disease warrants considerable public health attention in China.

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