Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science


Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

Shawn Gerstenberger, Chair

Second Committee Member

Helen Neill

Third Committee Member

Vern Hodges

Graduate Faculty Representative

Michelle Chino

Number of Pages



Despite large amounts of national data on lead and childhood lead poisoning, the status of childhood lead exposure in Nevada as a result of the use of cultural practices in the Hispanic population is unknown. The influx of immigrant Hispanic populations to Nevada, their low education level, the high number of them who are living in poverty present an increased risk for children to be exposed to lead through the use of imported consumables, home remedies and alternative medicine (i.e., healers/ sobadores).

A 61-question survey collected data from Hispanics over 18 years of age who have or take care of children six years or under. Results from the study demonstrated a significant relationship exists in the proportion of children who had reported to suffer from empacho and from a stomach illness, χ2 (1, N = 189) = 29.024, p < .001). Children who had empacho were more than 2.1 times as likely to also suffer from a stomach illness. A total 8.5% of respondents whose children suffered from empacho also used Azarcón, a folk remedy containing a high percentage of lead, LR (1, N = 190) =12.044, p = .001). A significant relationship exists between suffering from empacho and using a curandera/sobadora, χ2 (1, N = 192) = 26.91, p < .001). Individuals who reported their iv children as suffering from empacho were 11.6 times more likely to use a curandera/sobadora than those who did not report having empacho.

Foreign born Hispanics were more knowledgeable and 2.8 times more likely to believe their "child had a high chance of getting elevated blood lead levels" as compared to U.S. born respondents, χ2 (1, N = 212) = 3.814, p = .051. These results were inconclusive but should be explored further. On the other hand, they had less knowledge than their counterparts regarding the cost for getting child tested for lead, χ2 (1, N = 212) = 7.7, p = .006 and the time needed for treatment of elevated blood lead levels, χ2 (1, N = 212) = 3.4, p = .066. Foreign born Hispanics were almost 2.6 times as likely to believe treatment for elevated BLLs would take too much spare time and 4 times more likely to believe the lead test would be too expensive.

There was a significant relationship between country of origin and language, with 96.6% of foreign born Hispanics and 35.4% U.S. born respondents choosing Spanish as their preferred language for prevention messages, LR (1, N = 208) = 62.8, p < .001. Language is an indicator of the degree individuals have acculturated to American society (i.e., the process whereby one group contributes more to the flow of cultural elements than the other, much weaker one). Language may also influence how these individuals respond to health promotion and behavior change campaigns and the type of media they choose. A lead prevention campaign to be developed will incorporate language, folk traditions and the importance of the nuclear and expanded family to be thoroughly involved in preventing their children from being exposed to lead through folk remedies, folk healers and other items identified in this study.


Childhood lead poisoning; Elevated blood lead levels of Hispanic children; Hispanic American children; Hispanic Americans – Social life and customs; Hispanic cultural practices; Lead from folk remedies; Lead poisoning in children; Lead primary prevention; Non-traditional lead sources through cultural practices; Traditional medicine


Environmental Public Health | Medical Toxicology | Public Health

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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