Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,960 articles and books

Prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in a lead mining area.


Lead poisoning lead poisoning or plumbism (plŭm`bĭz'əm), intoxication of the system by organic compounds containing lead.  is a recognized threat to children living in urban areas of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  (1). There is, however, little information available on the prevalence of lead poisoning in the rural areas of the United States, particularly as it relates to point sources such as lead mining and smelting smelting, in metallurgy, any process of melting or fusion, especially to extract a metal from its ore. Smelting processes vary in detail depending on the nature of the ore and the metal involved, but they are typified in the use of the blast furnace. . Ilene Danse, et al., reviewed published literature of blood lead surveys on persons residing in proximity to lead mining wastes and found evidence to suggest that lead found in mill tailings Tailings (also known as tailings pile, tails, leach residue, or slickens[1]) are the materials left over[2] after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the worthless fraction of an ore.  (lead sulfate sulfate, chemical compound containing the sulfate (SO4) radical. Sulfates are salts or esters of sulfuric acid, H2SO4, formed by replacing one or both of the hydrogens with a metal (e.g., sodium) or a radical (e.g., ammonium or ethyl). ) is not readily bioavailable and therefore poses a low risk for children (2). In contrast to tailings, Danse, et al., found that active smelter sites were more often associated with elevations in blood lead levels (2). A study of Swedish preschool children living in a community with high lead levels from mine waste found that there was no correlation between the mine waste and increased blood lead levels (3). The study presented here evaluates blood lead and urine cadmium cadmium (kăd`mēəm) [from cadmia, Lat. for calamine, with which cadmium is found associated], metallic chemical element; symbol Cd; at. no. 48; at. wt. 112.41; m.p. 321°C;; b.p. 765°C;; sp. gr. 8.  levels in persons Diving in an abandoned lead mining, milling, and smelting area of southwestern Missouri that is on the National Priority List of hazardous waste Hazardous waste

Any solid, liquid, or gaseous waste materials that, if improperly managed or disposed of, may pose substantial hazards to human health and the environment. Every industrial country in the world has had problems with managing hazardous wastes.
 sites (Superfund). A study by the EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.

eicosapentaenoic acid

EPA, See acid, eicosapentaenoic.

 in 1986 reported lead soil levels from 73 to 7,300 ppm with a mean of 2,501 ppm and cadmium from 5.9 to 250 ppm with an average of 80 ppm (4).

The Jasper County Jasper County is the name of eight counties in the United States of America:
  • Jasper County, Georgia (Located in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area)
  • Jasper County, Illinois
  • Jasper County, Indiana
  • Jasper County, Iowa
  • Jasper County, Mississippi
 Missouri Superfund Site is a portion of the old Tri-State Mining District of Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas. From the 1840s through the Civil War years, over 200 widely dispersed primitive log smelting furnaces were operated in the Tri-State Mining District. Ore production consisted of mining, crushing, and grinding the rock to a standard size, ore separation, and tailings disposal. Environmental contamination with lead and cadmium was a common by-product by·prod·uct or by-prod·uct  
1. Something produced in the making of something else.

2. A secondary result; a side effect.


 of these operations. Mine production in the Missouri portion went on to reach its peak in 1916 when over 123 million rock-tons were processed to yield approximately 304 thousand tons of zinc concentrates and 41 tons of lead concentrates. The site is generally characterized by extensive surface land disturbances and piles of mine waste that resulted from the mining operations. Disturbed areas of the Jasper County Superfund Site in Missouri are spread over approximately 240 square miles. This mining waste contains differing levels of residual lead and cadmium depending upon when the mining took place. Smelting operations in the 1800s resulted in higher levels of residual lead and cadmium in the waste than modern smelting techniques.

Approximately eight million cubic yards of waste milling and mining products are scattered throughout the area. Some areas have been reclaimed for residential and industrial use by leveling the remaining piles of mine waste and incorporating the waste into the soil. Open mine shafts, subsided areas having steep, unstable slopes, and open pits containing deep pools of water exist throughout the region. The general site is primarily uncontrolled and routinely used for recreational purposes. In addition, water-quality problems result from artesian Ar`te´sian

a. 1. Of or pertaining to Artois (anciently called Artesium), in France.
Artesian wells
wells made by boring into the earth till the instrument reaches water, which, from internal pressure, flows spontaneously like a
 flow of mine waters from open shafts, rainwater runoff Runoff

The procedure of printing the end-of-day prices for every stock on an exchange onto ticker tape.

If the "tape is late" then it can take a long time to print off all the closing prices.
, and seepage from waste piles and settling ponds. Mine waste has been used as railroad ballast bal·last  
1. Heavy material that is placed in the hold of a ship or the gondola of a balloon to enhance stability.

a. Coarse gravel or crushed rock laid to form a bed for roads or railroads.

, road materials, and aggregates in asphalt paving and concrete. Sands and smaller sizes have been used for abrasives, roofing granules Granules
Small packets of reactive chemicals stored within cells.

Mentioned in: Allergic Rhinitis, Allergies
, pipe coatings, filter sands, and even children's sandboxes and play areas. Mine waste is also blown into the homes of residents in the area and is mixed with other materials originating inside and outside the home, including paint flakes, to form a mixture referred to in this paper as "dust".

This study hypothesized that the average soil, dust, and blood lead and urine cadmium levels would be higher in the lead mining area (study) than in a comparison community with no exposure to lead mining (control). This study also hypothesized that the proportion of children with blood lead levels above the level of concern established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center.  (CDC See Control Data, century date change and Back Orifice.

CDC - Control Data Corporation
) - greater than or equal to 10 [[micro]gram]/dl - would be significantly greater in the study area than in the control area.


The sampling frame was determined through a census of all of the homes in both the study and control areas to ascertain individuals eligible for the study. Individuals stratified stratified /strat·i·fied/ (strat´i-fid) formed or arranged in layers.

Arranged in the form of layers or strata.
 into three age groups, 6 through 71 months (children), 6 through 14 years (youth), and 15 through 44 years (adults), were randomly selected for the study if they had lived at their current residence at least 60 days before study commencement. Because our primary interest was childhood lead poisoning, children were over-sampled.

Demographic Characteristics for Study and Control Groups

                               Study Group        Control Group
Characteristic               Number   Percent   Number    Percent


Male                           207      50.2      140         49.5
Female                         295      49.8      143         50.5


6-71 months                    243       59.0     138         48.8
6-14 years                     117       28.4      95         33.6
15-44 years                     52       12.6      50         17.6


White                          396       96.8     274         97.2
Black                            3        0.70      3          1.10
Asian/Pacific Islander           1        0.20      0          0.00
Am. Indian/Alaskan Native        9        2.20      5          1.80


[less than] $15,000             91       22.9      48         17.8
$15,000-24,999                 106       26.7      71         26.3
[less than] $25,000            200       50.4     151         55.9

Educ. Head of Household

[greater than] 12th Grade        5        1.20      2          0.07
High School Graduate           210       51.9     130         45.9
Technical school                11        2.70      6          2.10
Some College or more           179       44.2     145         51.2

Year Home Built(*)

[greater than] 1960            151       62.1      42         30.8
1960-1979                       40       16.5      73         52.9
1980-present                    52       21.4      23         16.7

* p [less than] .001 (Chi square)

The study area was the Jasper County Missouri Superfund Site. It included portions of Webb City Webb City may refer to:
  • Webb's City
  • Webb City, Missouri
  • Webb City, Oklahoma
 and Joplin and all of Duenweg, and Carterville, Missouri Carterville is a city in Jasper County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,850 at the 2000 census. Geography
Carterville is located at  (37.149458, -94.440199)GR1.
. The control area was chosen to be socio-economically similar, geographically close, but physically outside the Superfund and lead mining area. It included parts of Neosho and all of Goodman, Missouri Goodman is a city in McDonald County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,183 at the 2000 census. Geography
Goodman is located at  (36.741499, -94.411054)GR1.

Participants were interviewed and blood and urine were collected at sites centrally located to the study and control areas. Specimen collection and analysis were performed according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 a standard protocol of the Environmental Health Laboratory Sciences Division of the CDC, which performed the urine cadmium and blood lead analyses using the Zeeman graphic furnace atomic absorption method. Quality control was established by duplicate analysis of whole blood pools, where target values were established by thermal ionization In thermal ionization, also referred to as surface ionization, chemically-purified material loaded onto a filament which is then heated to cause some of the material to be ionized as it boils off the hot filament.  isotopic dilution Isotopic dilution is a technique to increase the precision and accuracy of chemical analysis. First, a known amount of an isotope is added to the sample. For example, to determine the amount of lead in a sample, a known amount of Pb-204, one of the isotopes of lead, can be added.  mass spectroscopy mass spectroscope
Any of various devices that use magnetic fields, electric fields, or both to determine the masses of isotopes in a sample by producing a mass spectrum.

This study also included environmental measurements in a sample of study and control homes for lead and cadmium in drinking water drinking water

supply of water available to animals for drinking supplied via nipples, in troughs, dams, ponds and larger natural water sources; an insufficient supply leads to dehydration; it can be the source of infection, e.g. leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or of poisoning, e.g.
, soil, and house dust, and for lead in interior house paint. All environmental sampling and analysis was done by the Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), independent agency of the U.S. government, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1970 to reduce and control air and water pollution, noise pollution, and radiation and to ensure the safe handling and  (EPA) under a standard protocol. Soil and dust were analyzed for lead using digestion EPA SW- SW- Backward Surface Wave 846 method 3050 and analysis EPA SW 846 method 7420.

Lead paint was classified as present in the home if it was detected by XRF XRF X-Ray Fluorescence
XRF X-Ray Flash
XRF Cross Reference
XRF Extended Recovery Facility (IBM)
XRF Extended Reliability Feature
XRF Cross Reference File
XRF External Reference
 in any areas inside the home in which the child played. The soil lead value of 150 ppm was chosen as the background level because this value was approximately equal to the mean plus two standard errors of the mean from the control area. It was also the value indicated by risk assessment to be associated with elevated blood lead levels (5).

Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (statistics, tool) Statistical Package for the Social Sciences - (SPSS) The flagship program of SPSS, Inc., written in the late 1960s.

["SPSS X User's Guide", SPSS, Inc. 1986].
 (SPSS A statistical package from SPSS, Inc., Chicago ( that runs on PCs, most mainframes and minis and is used extensively in marketing research. It provides over 50 statistical processes, including regression analysis, correlation and analysis of variance. ). Statistical significance was set at .05 with two-tailed tests of significance.


Demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the study and control groups are presented in Table 1. The only characteristic that differed between groups was age of house. A higher percentage of homes in the study area were built prior to 1960 (p[less than].001), however a similar percentage of homes were built after 1980. There were 412 persons in the study group and 283 in the control group. Blood samples for lead were obtained from 391 study and 271 controls and urine samples for cadmium from 356 study and 249 controls. Blood samples could not be obtained from some young children because of small veins, nor could urine samples because some children were too young to provide adequate samples.

Table 2 presents blood lead, urine cadmium, and environmental lead and cadmium data by study group and age class. Environmental measurements were taken in 125 study and 26 control homes for lead and cadmium in drinking water, soil, and house dust, and for lead in interior house paint. Of the 125 study area samples, 105 were randomly selected using a table of random numbers from homes in which a child resided and 20 were tested because a child in the household had an elevated blood lead level. All 26 tested homes in the control area were randomly selected using a table of random numbers from homes in which a child resided. All homes where children with elevated blood lead levels resided received environmental testing.

All environmental measurements of lead and cadmium, except water, were higher in the study group compared to the controls. Lead in soil was over six times higher in the study area compared to the control area and lead in dust and interior paint was three times higher. Cadmium in soil and dust was also considerably higher in the study area.

Average blood lead levels in children were almost twice as high in study area children compared to controls. Analysis of covariance Covariance

A measure of the degree to which returns on two risky assets move in tandem. A positive covariance means that asset returns move together. A negative covariance means returns vary inversely.
 indicated that blood lead levels remained significantly higher in the study compared to the control group after controlling for indoor paint lead levels (p = .030, n = 179). Blood lead levels were also significantly higher after controlling for the age of the house (p [less than] .001, n = 353). In addition, average blood leads were significantly higher for youths and adults. Although soil and dust cadmium levels were significantly higher in the study group, urine cadmium levels were not statistically different between the study and control areas for any age group. Over 84% of all children tested did not have a detectable level of cadmium in their urine.

Figure 1 shows cumulative frequency for blood lead levels in children. In the study group, 14 percent of the children had blood lead levels greater than 10 [[micro]gram]/dl (the level of concern indicated by the CDC) and 5% had levels greater than 15 [[micro]gram]/dl. None of the control children had blood leads that were greater than 10 [[micro]gram]/dl. Children with elevated blood lead levels did not have other known sources of lead exposure such as parental occupation or hobbies, household renovation, use of lead cooking and storage containers, use of medicinal products containing lead, consumption of fish from contaminated contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object.
 streams, or any other identifiable sources of lead exposure.

Figure 2 indicates that 76% of children with blood lead levels greater than 10 [[micro]gram]/dl lived in homes in which the soil lead was greater than 150 ppm and there was lead-based paint in the home. Twenty-four percent of the children with elevated blood lead levels came from homes with lead levels greater than [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 2 OMITTED] 150 ppm in the soil, but no lead-based paint in the home. This is probably due to the fact that approximately 31% of indoor dust has an origin of outdoor soil (6). None of the 17 children living in homes with lead-based paint but without elevated levels of lead in the soil (greater than 150 ppm) had elevated blood leads.


The primary objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of blood lead levels greater than the CDC level of concern (10 [[micro]gram]/dl) among children living in an old lead mining area and to compare this to the prevalence in an area not affected by mining. The results indicate that children living in the study area had greater exposure to lead as indicated by the significantly higher prevalence of elevated blood lead levels - 14% compared to 0%. Mean blood lead levels were almost twice as high in children living in the study area (6.25 [[micro]gram]/dl) compared to children living in the control area (3.59 [[micro]gram]/dl).

Environmental sampling indicated that soil lead levels in the study area were over six times higher than in the control area. Lead levels in dust and paint samples were also significantly higher in the study area. Indoor dust derives from both indoor and outdoor sources. As previously stated, it has been estimated that approximately 31% of indoor dust comes from exterior soil (6).

Both the number of persons with elevated blood lead levels and the mean blood lead levels for the mining area were significantly greater than those for the control area. These mean differences continued to be statistically significant after controlling for indoor paint levels and age of the home. Age of home was controlled for because more homes in the study area were built prior to 1960, the year that lead was beginning to be phased out of residential paint. As indicated in Figure 2, all of the children with elevated blood lead levels lived in homes that had soil lead levels greater than background levels of 150 ppm and most of these also had lead paint in the home. None of the 60 children from the study and control areas who lived in homes without lead paint or soil lead had elevated blood lead levels.

It is not possible to determine from this study what proportion of the biological lead burden results from mining and smelting waste and what proportion comes from other sources such as paint and gasoline residue deposited in soil. The evidence suggests that some portion of the difference in blood lead levels between the mining and non-mining areas is the result of exposure to the mining waste, since the difference can not be accounted for by differences in paint lead levels between the two areas. Although paint lead levels were somewhat higher in the study area, blood lead levels continue to be significantly higher in the study area after controlling for paint lead levels and after controlling for an indicator of lead paint - age of house. Also, some of the children with elevated lead levels came from homes in which leaded paint was not found but elevated soil lead levels were.

Although both dust and soil cadmium levels were significantly higher in the study area, the urine cadmium levels were not different between the study and control children. This is possible due to the lack of biological availability of cadmium from soil since cadmium could not be detected in the urine of 84% of the children.


Children living in the Jasper County Superfund Site where soil is contaminated with lead from mining and smelting operations have a higher prevalence of elevated blood lead levels compared to children living in areas without soil contamination Soil contamination is the presence of man-made chemicals or other alteration in the natural soil environment. This type of contamination typically arises from the rupture of underground storage tanks, application of pesticides, percolation of contaminated surface water to . The data suggest that this increased prevalence of elevated blood lead levels may be due to a combination of soil lead from mining and smelting operations and other sources of lead, such as household lead paint.

Corresponding Author: Ana Maria Murgueytio, M.D., M.P.H., School of Public Health, Saint Louis University Saint Louis University, mainly at St. Louis, Mo.; Jesuit; coeducational; opened 1818 as an academy, became a college 1820, chartered as a university 1832. Parks College (est. 1927 as Parks College of Aeronautical Technology) in Cahokia, Ill. , 3663 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108.


This study was supported by a grant from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry The United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, (ATSDR) is an agency for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is directed by a congressional mandate to perform specific functions concerning the effect on public health of hazardous , U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services Noun 1. Department of Health and Human Services - the United States federal department that administers all federal programs dealing with health and welfare; created in 1979
Health and Human Services, HHS


1. Centers for Disease Control (1991), Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2. Danse, I.H.R., L.G. Garb, and R.H. Moore (1995), "Blood Lead Surveys of Communities in Proximity to Lead-Containing Mill Tailings," Am. Ind. Hyg. Assoc. J., 56(4):384-393.

3. Bjerre, B., M. Berglund, K. Harsbo, and B. Hellman (1993), "Blood Lead Concentrations of Swedish Preschool Children in a Community With High Lead Levels from Mine Waste in Soil and Dust," Scand. J. Work Environ. Health, 19 (3):154-161.

4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1986), Final Report for the Tri-State Mining Area Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city located in parts of southern Jasper County and northern Newton County in the southwestern corner of Missouri. Joplin is the largest city in Jasper County, though it is not the county seat. , Region VII, Kansas City Kansas City, two adjacent cities of the same name, one (1990 pop. 149,767), seat of Wyandotte co., NE Kansas (inc. 1859), the other (1990 pop. 435,146), Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties, NW Mo. (inc. 1850). , Ks.

5. Bassinger-Daniels, Sherry (Jan. 5, 1995), Personal Communication, Missouri Dept. of Health.

6. Calabrese, E.J., and E.J. Stanek (1992), "What Proportion of Household Dust is Derived from Outdoor Soil," J. Soil Cont, 1(3):253-263.
COPYRIGHT 1996 National Environmental Health Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Moehr, Tony
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Jun 1, 1996
Previous Article:Lost radiation sources: raising public awareness about the hazards associated with industrial and medical radiography sources.
Next Article:A small community success story: how pressure sewers and a community septic system are protecting the environment at Cuyler, New York.

Related Articles
Preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Behaviors and blood lead levels of children in a lead-mining area and a comparison community.
Imported miniblinds: a potential source of lead exposure for young children.
Trends in the Protection of Children's Health.
Finding the Causes of Childhood Diseases.
Put off: middle-class children often don't get tested for lead, despite the damage it can do.
Efficacy of the Community Reinvestment Act in promoting lead abatement.
Lead poison prevention: a comparative review of brochures.
Prevalence of elevated blood lead levels and evaluation of a lead-risk-screening questionnaire in rural Minnesota.
Lessons from a primary-prevention program for lead poisoning among inner-city children.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters