Exposure of children to lead and cadmium from a mining area of Brazil

Monica Maria Bastos Paoliello, Eduardo Mello De Capitani, Fernanda Gonçalves Da Cunha, Tiemi Matsuo, Maria de Fátima Carvalho, Alice Sakuma, Bernardino Ribeiro Figueiredo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


During the past 50 years the Ribeira river valley, in the southern part of the state of São Paulo, Brazil, had been under the influence of the full activity of a huge lead refinery and mine working by the side of the river. The plant completely stopped all kinds of industrial activities at the end of 1995, and part of the worker population and their families still remain living nearby in small communities. The objective of the study was to assess the exposure of children to lead and cadmium in these areas, where residual environmental contamination from the past industrial activity still exists. Blood samples of 295 children aged 7 to 14 years, residing in rural and urban areas around the mine and the refinery, were collected. A questionnaire was given to gather information on food habits, leisure activities, father's past employment, current and former residential places, and other variables. Blood lead and cadmium concentrations were analyzed by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry using Zeeman background correction. Cadmium values obtained in this population were mostly below established quantification limits (0.5 μg/dl). The median of blood lead level (BLL) obtained in children living close to the lead refinery was 11.25 μg/dl, and the median in other mining regions far from the refinery was 4.4 μg/dl. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the independent contribution of selected variables in predicting BLL in these children. The following variables showed significant association with high BLL: residential area close to the lead refinery [odds ratio (OR) = 10.38 (95% confidence interval (Cl) = 4.86-23.25)], former father's occupational lead exposure [OR = 4.07 (95% Cl= 1.82-9.24)], and male gender [OR = 2.60 (95% Cl = 1.24-5.62)].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-128
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood
  • Cadmium exposure
  • Children
  • Environmental exposure
  • Lead exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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