John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Environmental and socioeconomic factors contributing to elevated blood lead levels in children from an industrial area of Upper Silesia

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The present study concentrated on a cross‐sectional analysis of recent exposure to lead (Pb) and the socioeconomic factors behind increased Pb exposure in Polish children. Lead is one of the most widespread toxic heavy metals in the industrial region of Upper Silesia (Poland). Elevated blood Pb levels in children continue to be a matter of serious concern. The present study involved 4882 children from the Upper Silesia region, aged from 3 yr to 18 yr, over the calendar years 1999 to 2013. The concentration of Pb in blood was determined in each child. The children's parents were asked to answer survey questions about the child's environmental exposure to Pb as well as the socioeconomic condition of the family. Factors that correspond with increased exposure to Pb included: lower level of education of parents, unemployment, parents' occupational Pb exposure, poor socioeconomic status of the family, smoking at home, living on the ground floor of buildings, consumption of locally grown vegetables and fruits, longer outdoor playing periods in a polluted environment, and male gender. Environmental exposure to Pb is the most important factor behind chronic poisoning of children in Upper Silesia. The most important socioeconomic factor associated with concentrations of Pb in children's blood is a lower level of education of a child's mother and father. Environ Toxicol Chem 2016;9999:1–7. © 2016 SETAC

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