Blood lead surveys in several areas of India have found very high percentages of children with elevated blood lead levels. Fifty-three percent of children under 12 years of age in a sevencity screening had blood lead levels equal to or greater than 10 μg/dL, the level currently considered elevated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A number of these surveys focused on populations near lead smelters or in areas with high lead levels from combustion of lead-containing gasoline. There is little information available, however, on the levels of lead in paint in India and in soil. Field portable X-ray fluorescence analyzers were used to determine environmental lead levels in paint, dust, air, soil, and other bulk samples near several lead-using industries and in the residential environments of children with very high blood lead levels, at least four times as high as theCDClimit. Soils near industrial operations, such as secondary lead smelters, and battery dismantling units contained levels up to 100,000 ppm of lead.
Four of 29 currently available paints from five manufacturers measured 1.0 mg/cm2 or above—the current U.S. definition of lead-based paint in housing—after the application of a single coat; four others measured at least 1.0 after three coats, and three others likely reached this level after the application of an additional one or two coats. In 5 of 10 homes of the elevated blood lead children, three or more locations in or around the home were found to have lead paint levels of 1.0 mg/cm2 or higher. Soil exceeding the U.S. standard for residential areas (400 ppm) was found at only one of the houses. Other sources of lead exposure, including traditional ayurvedic medicine tablets, were also observed. Similar surveys would be useful elsewhere in India and in other developing countries