Study of children's blood lead level after phase-out of leaded fuel use in Bombay, India
Nichani, Vikram N
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Tetra-Ethyl Lead was added to gasoline worldwide as an ‘anti-knock’ agent in the early 1920s. Although leaded gasoline resulted in widespread environmental contamination, its usage was continued in several countries until the late 1990s. Various studies have associated unleaded gasoline with lower blood lead levels (BLLs) in children. The present study analyzed BLLs in 754 children under the age of 12 years in Bombay, India during 2002-2003, after the phase-out of leaded gasoline. This data was compared with a study done before the phase-out of leaded gasoline, which found that 62% of children aged < 12 years had BLL > 10µg/dL. We also tested for seasonal variations in pediatric BLLs by comparing data from the nonmonsoon season and the monsoon season. The overall geometric mean BLL of 8.36 µg/dL found in this study was lower than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s level of concern (10 µg/dL). This marks a significant success of the public health system, which was achieved by the removal of lead from gasoline. In the future, emphasis should therefore shift towards other sources of lead exposure.