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Determinants of childhood lead exposure in the postleaded petrol era: The Tooth Fairy cohort from Newcastle upon Tyne

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Susan Hodgson, Dr Wendy Dirks, Professor Tanja Pless-Mulloli

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Abstract

Lead is an environmental contaminant causing irreversible health effects in children. We used dentine lead levels as a measure of early-life lead exposure and explored determinants of lead exposure in children living in Newcastle upon Tyne, a historically industrialised UK city, in a cohort born since legislation was introduced to remove lead from petrol, paint and water pipes. The "Tooth Fairy study" cohort comprised 69 children aged 5–8 years. We collected upper deciduous incisors from children and questionnaire data from their parents in 2005. We measured lead levels in pre- and postnatal enamel and dentine using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and assessed associations between dentine lead levels and residential, dietary, lifestyle and socio-economic characteristics. Dentine lead levels were low (mean 0.26 μg/g, range 0.06–0.77); however, we observed considerable variability in dentine lead levels within and between children suggestive of differing exposure levels and/or exposure sources across this population. Variables earlier documented to be associated with childhood lead levels were not found to be significant determinants of dentine lead levels in this study. Exposure pathways should continue to be investigated to enable targeted interventions and prevention of lead-induced health impacts in vulnerable populations.Lead is an environmental contaminant causing irreversible health effects in children. We used dentine lead levels as a measure of early-life lead exposure and explored determinants of lead exposure in children living in Newcastle upon Tyne, a historically industrialised UK city, in a cohort born since legislation was introduced to remove lead from petrol, paint and water pipes. The "Tooth Fairy study" cohort comprised 69 children aged 5–8 years. We collected upper deciduous incisors from children and questionnaire data from their parents in 2005. We measured lead levels in pre- and postnatal enamel and dentine using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and assessed associations between dentine lead levels and residential, dietary, lifestyle and socio-economic characteristics. Dentine lead levels were low (mean 0.26 μg/g, range 0.06–0.77); however, we observed considerable variability in dentine lead levels within and between children suggestive of differing exposure levels and/or exposure sources across this population. Variables earlier documented to be associated with childhood lead levels were not found to be significant determinants of dentine lead levels in this study. Exposure pathways should continue to be investigated to enable targeted interventions and prevention of lead-induced health impacts in vulnerable populations.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Hodgson S, Manmee C, Dirks W, Shepherd T, Pless-Mulloli T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology

Year: 2015

Volume: 25

Issue: 4

Pages: 420-426

Print publication date: 01/07/2015

Online publication date: 18/11/2014

Acceptance date: 15/09/2014

ISSN (print): 1559-0631

ISSN (electronic): 1559-064X

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/jes.2014.79

DOI: 10.1038/jes.2014.79


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