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Open AccessArticle

Lead Poisoning: An Alarming Public Health Problem in Bangladesh

Department of Community Health Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA
Department of Government, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6(1), 84-95;
Received: 3 November 2008 / Accepted: 4 January 2009 / Published: 5 January 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health: Feature Papers)
To assess the risk of lead poisoning among preschool and school-aged children in Bangladesh, 345 children were screened for blood lead levels (BLLs) from one rural and two urban areas in Bangladesh from September 2007 through January 2008. An urban industrial area at Tongi was identified as a disaster area, where 99% (104/105) of those tested had BLLs ≥10 µg/dL. Industrial emissions and use of leaded gasoline by two-stroke engine vehicles were identified as possible sources of lead in that area. A rural nonindustrial area at Chirirbandar, Dinajpur was identified as another high-risk area, where 14% of the children screened had BLLs ≥10 µg/dL. BLLs at the urban industrial area were significantly higher than those at the rural and urban nonindustrial areas (24.58 ± 10.32, 7.24 ± 6.31, and 2.47 ± 3.32 µg/dL, respectively; p <0.001). Weight-for-age z-scores of the urban children were significantly lower than that of the rural children (-1.41 ± 1.88 vs. 0.20 ± 1.16, p <0.001). Children with elevated BLLs had poorer nutritional status (p = 0.05) than those with normal BLLs. Over 90% of the parents did not know that lead causes health problems. In conclusion, the problem of lead poisoning in children was found to be high in both urban and rural Bangladesh. A universal lead screening for preschool and school-aged children and a lead education program for parents are recommended for implementation in Bangladesh. View Full-Text
Keywords: Lead poisoning; children; Bangladesh; GIS; universal screening Lead poisoning; children; Bangladesh; GIS; universal screening
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Mitra, A.K.; Haque, A.; Islam, M.; Bashar, S.A.M.K. Lead Poisoning: An Alarming Public Health Problem in Bangladesh. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6, 84-95.

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