Award Date

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Environmental and Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Shawn Gerstenberger, Chair

Second Committee Member

Linda Stetzenbach

Third Committee Member

Chad Cross

Graduate Faculty Representative

Jennifer Keene

Number of Pages

135

Abstract

Exposure to lead continues to be a public health concern, particularly for young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 250,000 children currently have blood lead levels (BLLs) above the level at which adverse health effects are apparent and intervention is recommended (10μg/dL). National surveillance data on childhood lead exposure has been collected for children under the age of 6 years old since 1995. However, not until 2006 did a program begin in Nevada (limited to Clark County); therefore, statewide data about childhood lead exposure in Nevada remains limited. The goal of this study was to identify possible sources of lead exposure through increased screening efforts and to identify the factors most associated with blood lead levels in Southern Nevada children. Throughout the study period, a total of 1,048 families received educational materials regarding the dangers of childhood lead poisoning. Of those, 564 children were recruited into the study. Blood samples were collected for each of the participants by either venous blood draw or capillary finger stick, depending on the availability of the method and parental preference. Blood lead level (BLL) analysis identified 35 children with detectable BLLs, with a range of 3μg/dL to a high of 7μg/dL. Study participants also completed a five question questionnaire intended to identify behaviors and items which could put them at risk for atypical lead exposures. A number of potential sources were identified; the most common including: the habit of putting non-food items into the mouth (particularly toys), the ingestion of paleta imported candies, the use of pewter home goods in the household, and "take-home exposure" from household members whose occupation exposed them to lead. Statistical analysis, by Fisher's exact test, indicated that there was a significant difference in the proportion of children with detectable BLLs who had the habit of putting non-food items into their mouths versus the proportion of children with detectable BLLs who did not have the same habit. These results, while restricted to the study population, indicate that further research is needed to identify what items are posing the greatest risk for oral lead exposure. This research suggests that Southern Nevada children may have relatively low BLLs. However, since the study results are not considered representative, further research is needed to truly identify the prevalence of the problem. These data indicate that Southern Nevada children may likely be exposed to a variety of atypical sources which may increase their risk for lead poisoning. As such, further educational, screening, and research efforts are essential for the primary prevention of future childhood lead poisoning cases in Southern Nevada.

Keywords

Lead poisoning in children; Lead in the body; Lead risk assessment; Lead — Toxicology; Nevada – Clark county

Disciplines

Environmental Public Health | Pediatrics

Language

English


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