Key words Blood lead levels
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate environmental lead exposure in the general Taiwanese population. A total of 8828 Taiwanese adults selected by a multistage sampling method were investigated. Characteristics of the participants were ascertained by questionnaire and 10 ml venous blood was drawn by public health nurses. The blood specimens were distributed to six laboratories for blood lead level (BLL) measurement. A quality control program was applied during the analysis of the BLLs in order to improve precision and accuracy. The arithmetic mean BLL of the 8828 Taiwanese adults was 7.70 ± 5.23 μg/dl, with a maximal level of 69.1 μg/dl. The median was 6.5 μg/dl and the 90th percentile was 14.0 μg/dl. After logarithmic transformation, the geometric mean was 1.84 ± 0.67 μg/dl. This study also found that elevated BLLs were associated with certain personal characteristics, i.e., gender, ethnic group, and education level; life-style factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, Chinese herbal drug consumption, milk consumption, and sources of drinking water; residential location, i.e., level of urbanization; and occupational history of lead exposure. However, age, floor level of residence, distance from house to road, and betel nut consumption were not associated with elevated BLLs. These results showed that BLLs in the Taiwanese population were not higher than those in developed and developing countries. Most of the influencing factors were also found in other studies; however, local factors such as ethnic group, Chinese herbal drug consumption, and sources of drinking water are important considerations in Taiwan when examining ways to prevent overexposure to lead in the general population.
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