Student Research: Deborah Havens

, Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM), 2012
Faculty Advisor:

Childhood Blood Lead Levels and Associated Risk Factors in Vietnam


In some nations, such as the US, India and Indonesia, to name a few, studies have shown a precipitous drop in childhood lead levels after leaded gasoline has been outlawed.  For instance, at the time US federal legislation was enacted in the 1970’s to eliminate the use of leaded gasoline, the median blood lead level (BLL) of US children ages 1-5 was 15 µg/dL (from 1976 to 1980).  In 1988-1991, the median was 3.6 µg/dL, and by 1999, the median BLL had decreased to 1.9 µg/dL (American Academy of Pediatrics 2005).  Leaded gasoline was phased out in Vietnam in 2001.  Unfortunately, no surveillance blood lead levels are available to confirm that Vietnamese children are now at decreased risk of complications due to lead exposure.  Even with the elimination of leaded fuel, elevated pediatric blood lead levels have been found in neighboring Southeast (SE) Asian countries due to other environmental lead exposures such as lead battery recycling and electronic waste (e-waste) (Gottsfeld and Pokhrel 2011).  Some of these same exposures can be found throughout Vietnam.  Therefore, it is important to evaluate the current prevalence of elevated blood lead levels among children in Vietnam (Vietnews 2011).  A range of environmental exposure sources are of increasing interest as it becomes clear that there does not appear to be a safe level of lead exposure in children.
** Taken from introduction