Lead in Urban Children, China

Zhong B, Giubilato E, Critto A, Wang L, Marcomini A, Zhang J. Probabilistic modeling of aggregate lead exposure in children of urban China using an adapted IEUBK model. The Science of the total environment. 2017 Feb 7. pii: S0048-9697(16)32629-8. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.164.

Lead, a ubiquitous pollutant throughout the environment, is confirmed to be neurotoxic for children by pulmonary and oral routes. As preschool children in China continue to be exposed to lead, we analyzed the available biomonitoring data for preschool children in urban China collected in the period 2004-2014 through a literature review. To identify apportionment of lead exposure sources for urban children in China, we modified the IEUBK model with a Monte Carlo module to assess the uncertainty and variability of the model output based on limited available exposure data and compared the simulated blood lead levels with the observed ones obtained through literature review. Although children’s blood lead levels in urban China decreased statistically over time for the included studies, changes in blood lead levels in three economic zones and seven age groups except for two age-specific groups were no longer significant. The GM-predicted BLLs and the GM-observed BLLs agreed within 1μg/dL for all fourteen cities. The 95% CIs for the predicted GMs and the observed distribution (GM±GSD) overlapped substantially. These results demonstrated the plausibility of blood lead prediction provided by the adapted IEUBK model. Lead exposure estimates for diet, soil/dust, air, and drinking water were 12.01±6.27μg/day, 2.69±0.89μg/day, 0.20±0.15μg/day, and 0.029±0.012μg/day, respectively. These findings showed that the reduction of lead concentrations in grains and vegetables would be beneficial to limit the risk of dietary lead exposure for a large proportion of preschool children in urban China.

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