Blood lead levels in a rural population: Relative elevations among migrant farmworker children

J. M. Perrin, M. J. Merkens

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Abstract

Cohen and her colleagues reported that, although the mean blood level in a rural group was lower than in an urban group, 9% of children in their rural group had blood lead levels of 40 μg/100 ml or higher. The present study attempted to confirm the rural prevalence findings of Cohen et al. as well as to identify groups at potentially high risk in rural areas. More specifically, the study population permitted the comparison of migrant farmworker children with other rural dwellers. This study supports the hypothesis that migrant children differ from other rural children in carrying higher blood leads. In addition, this finding does not appear to be explained by social class differences, insofar as, among nonfarmworkers in the same rural area, children had similar levels, whether or not enrolled in Medicaid. The findings of the present study differ from those of Cohen et al., in that no blood leads persistently higher than 40 μg/100 ml were found, despite the higher mean levels among migrant farm-workers. It appears that the prevalence of blood lead elevations varies among rural areas, presumably in relation to different environmental conditions. Although routine screening should not, therefore, be recommended for all rural areas, migrant farmworker children should be considered a population at high risk for undue lead absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-542
Number of pages3
JournalPediatrics
Volume64
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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