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Lead-Contaminated Imported Tamarind Candy and Children's Blood Lead Levels

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... If lead is found in the raw materials for the candy, it poses a challenge to producers having to certify their providers. In the early 1990's high lead concentrations were detected in Mexican candy wrappers and ceramic containers [14]. In 1993 the Mexican Health authorities released a regulation limiting the use of lead in ink [15]. ...
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Background: Lead is a neurotoxic metal potentially affecting the developing brain. Children are particularly susceptible since they can absorb between 50% and 100% of ingested lead. There is no safe level for lead, therefore preventing exposure is crucial. We previously reported a positive association between lead concentrations found in candy and concurrent blood lead levels in Mexican children. This first report garnered media and the general public's attention. Objective: To conduct a follow-up study to assess lead concentrations in candy brands that we previously reported with concentrations ≥0.1ppm the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recommended maximum lead level in candy likely to be consumed frequently by small children. Methods: In 2018 we analyzed 50 additional candy samples. Lead concentrations were analyzed by an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer and lead content per candy unit was calculated. Findings: We found concentrations were typically low, with a marked decrease from prior levels (2008). Nevertheless two candy units had concentrations of 0.1 ppm of lead. Conclusions: Candy may have lead concentrations up to 0.1 ppm and 1.2 μg per unit. This is a concern because candies are exported and consumed in many countries worldwide potentially resulting in human exposure. Continued public health surveillance is needed to protect populations especially vulnerable to lead exposure, especially children.
... Immigrants bring with them their physiological burden of Pb stored in bone [46,47]. In addition, they bring distinctive cultural and dietary practices [48][49][50] that can result in the significant exposure to Pb discussed in the following sections. ...
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As a result of recent media attention to lead (Pb) in consumer products, Pb exposure and toxicity to children has been placed back on the national agenda. This review presents the current literature on sources of Pb in Hispanic sub-populations in the broader context of national lead poisoning trends, sources, and exposure pathways. Pb poisoning among Hispanics is a multi-dimensional issue that is far more complex than for the general population in terms of environmental, cultural, and social dimensions. As a result, a higher percentage of Hispanic children have elevated blood lead levels compared to the general population. Given the additional risks that Hispanics face, all Hispanic children should be defined as "at risk" for lead exposure and included in targeted screening programs. This review concludes with specific public policy recommendations that directly address the increased risk of Pb poisoning to Hispanic children so that Pb will poison fewer children in the future.
... In the Georgian family, the 4-year-old boy had a blood lead level of 31 mg/dL after eating meals containing swanuri marili (Pb 2040 ppm) and kharchos suneli (Pb 23,100 ppm) for several months [24]. Lead also has been found as a contaminant of Middle Eastern flour [25], calcium supplements [26], and imported candies [27]. The use of lead-containing or lead-soldered cooking pans, kettles, and glazed pottery to serve food or beverages to the family also may represent an overlooked hazard in the home. ...
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Childhood lead poisoning is still an enormous public health issue in the United States, affecting thousands of children and their families. New evidence suggests that even very low blood lead levels, less than 10 microg/dL, can be associated with neurologic injury. This article discusses characteristics of children at high risk for lead poisoning, unusual sources of lead contamination, and new aspects of lead's pathophysiology. It includes current thinking on the clinical management and prevention of childhood lead poisoning.
... These findings suggest that children living in several of the US/Mexico border sites may have BLLs higher than the US mean. Although, the average BLL for children aged 1–5 years in the United States was 22 mg/l in (CDC, 2003), there can be considerable variation in mean BLLs in different areas depending on ARTICLE IN PRESS , 1993, 2002), candy (CDC, 2002; Lynch et al., 2000), and pottery. The challenge has been to change the production of these products so that lead is not added. ...
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To evaluate lead exposure among children living in border communities, the states of Arizona and New Mexico in the United States (US), and the states of Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico collaboratively requested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide technical assistance to document pediatric blood lead levels (BLLs) in children living along this part of the US/Mexico border. Two studies were conducted to evaluate BLLs of children aged 1-6 years. In 1998, 1210 children were tested in the Arizona/Sonora study; in 1999, 874 children were tested in New Mexico/Chihuahua. Overall geometric mean BLL was 32.5 microg/l (95% Confidence Interval 31.5-33.5) with BLLs ranging from below limit of detection to 320.0 microg/l. Mean BLLs were higher among children living on the Mexican side of the border (43.2 microg/l) compared to those on the US side (22.3 microg/l). Mean BLLs ranged from 14.9 to 31.2 microg/l at the US sites and from 26.9 to 55.2 microg/l at the Mexican sites. This study used a convenience sample and cannot be considered representative of the general population. Nonetheless, the range of mean BLLs among the sites and especially the higher mean BLLs among children living in the border communities in Mexico suggests different exposures to lead and warrants further attention.
... In 1970, lead in gasoline, which had long been used as an anti-knocking agent, was banned by the US Legislature. Seven years later, the maximum concentrations of lead in paints were set at 0.06% [10]. The removal of lead from gasoline and paints led to considerable decreases in environmental lead exposure, but chronic exposures to lower concentrations of environmental lead still exist today in the United States and throughout the world. ...
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Geophagia (the pica of pottery, clay, earth, or dirt) is practiced before and during pregnancy in several countries, including Mexico, Turkey, Australia, and some African countries, and has been linked with cul-tural fertility beliefs and the satisfaction of cravings. Unfortunately, consumption of contaminated pottery can represent a source of lead exposure. Concerns regarding ingested pottery are two-fold; first, that people consuming these pots might be exposed to high concentrations of lead, and, second, that ingestion of these pots by pregnant women could result in ele-vated in utero lead exposure for the fetus. Very few published articles exist on this topic. In an effort to investigate "pot eating", this study aims to summarize published case studies on lead poisonings resulting from consumption of contaminated pottery. Addition-ally, several pottery items that are sold for the pur-pose of consumption were located and analyzed. This paper investigates the risk that "pot eating" poses by reviewing the literature, examining case studies, and analyzing the availability and lead concentration of edible pottery. Preliminary research indicates that although it is not common, "pot eating" can represent a high-risk lead exposure for pregnant women and their fetuses.
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The effects of lead (Pb(2+)) on human health have been recognized since antiquity. However, it was not until the 1970s that seminal epidemiological studies provided evidence on the effects of Pb(2+) intoxication on cognitive function in children. During the last two decades, advances in behavioral, cellular and molecular neuroscience have provided the necessary experimental tools to begin deciphering the many and complex effects of Pb(2+) on neuronal processes and cell types that are essential for synaptic plasticity and learning and memory in the mammalian brain. In this review, we concentrate our efforts on the effects of Pb(2+) on glutamatergic synapses and specifically on the accumulating evidence that the N-methyl-D-aspartate type of excitatory amino acid receptor (NMDAR) is a direct target for Pb(2+) effects in the brain. Our working hypothesis is that disruption of the ontogenetically defined pattern of NMDAR subunit expression and NMDAR-mediated calcium signaling in glutamatergic synapses is a principal mechanism for Pb(2+)-induced deficits in synaptic plasticity and in learning and memory documented in animal models of Pb(2+) neurotoxicity. We provide an introductory overview of the magnitude of the problem of Pb(2+) exposure to bring forth the reality that childhood Pb(2+) intoxication remains a major public health problem not only in the United States but worldwide. Finally, the latest research offers some hope that the devastating effects of childhood Pb(2+) intoxication in a child's ability to learn may be reversible if the appropriate stimulatory environment is provided.
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The dangers of ingesting lead, especially in childhood, are well documented. Some studies, recently reported in the media, have found a correlation between Mexican candies and cases of childhood lead poisoning. A few researchers have found lead in some brands of imported Mexican candies sold in the United States; it has not been conclusively determined whether the lead contamination originates in the candy itself or the wrapper. This ongoing project utilizes atomic absorption spectrophotometry to test several brands of candies, as well as their packaging material, for lead content.
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Background Recent studies have shown that lead exposure continues to pose a health risk in Mexico. Children are a vulnerable population for lead effects and Mexican candy has been found to be a source of exposure in children. There are no previous studies that estimates lead concentrations in candy that children living in Mexico City consume and its association with their blood lead level. Objectives To evaluate whether there is an association between reported recent consumption of candies identified to have lead, and blood lead levels among children in Mexico City. Methods A subsample of 171 children ages 2–6 years old, from the Early Life Exposure in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) cohort study was assessed between June 2006 and July 2007. The candy reported most frequently were analyzed for lead using ICP-MS. The total weekly intake of lead through the consumption of candy in the previous week was calculated. Capillary blood lead levels (BLL) were measured using LeadCare (anodic stripping voltammetry). Results Lead concentrations ≥0.1 ppm, the FDA permitted level (range: 0.13–0.7 ppm) were found in 6 samples out of 138 samples from 44 different brands of candy. Median BLL in children was 4.5 µg/dl. After adjusting for child’s sex, age, BMI, maternal education & occupation, milk consumption, sucking the candy wrapper, use of lead-glazed pottery, child exposure behavior, living near a lead exposure site and use of folk remedies, an increase of 1 µg of lead ingested through candy per week was associated with 3% change (95% CI: 0.1%, 5.2%) in BLL. Conclusions Although lead concentrations in candy were mostly below the FDA permitted level, high lead concentrations were detected in 4% of the candy samples and 12% of brands analyzed. Although candy intake was modestly associated with children’s BLL, lead should not be found in consumer products, especially in candy that children can consume due to the well documented long-lasting effect of lead exposure.
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Plastic sheet and film are often printed by flexography, a variation of the letterpress process widely used in printing magazines. It has previously been shown that some letterpress inks used in magazines contained about 29,000 ppm lead and that the colored pages from magazines may have been the major source of lead in the diet of a child. The knowledge that letterpress inks are used in printing plastics led the authors to examine the lead content of printed polyethylene bags used for packaging foods.