Lead in imported candy from Mexico in four counties in Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/rx913t50c

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  • Childhood lead poisoning is one of the most common preventable pediatric health problems in the United States. Fetuses, neonates, and young children are particularly sensitive to adverse health effects associated with lead exposure due to children's hand to mouth activities, their greater ability to absorb lead, and their vulnerable developing nervous systems. Lead poisoning can result in decreased intelligence, impaired neurobehavioral development, stunted physical growth, hearing and kidney problems, juvenile delinquency, and a propensity to commit criminal acts. Well-documented past sources of lead exposures in children are from leaded paint, leaded gasoline, lead-contaminated soils and dust, leaded soldered cans and water pipes, and leadglazed pottery. Certain Mexican folk remedies such as Alarcon, Azarcon, Coral, and Greta have also been shown to contain dangerous levels of lead (Greta, for example, is composed of approximately 99% lead oxide). Recently, several studies have shown that a number of brands of candies from Mexico contain unsafe levels of lead. This study was initiated to assess whether lead-tainted imported candies are available in Mexican markets (tiendas) in Oregon. Hood River, Marion, Benton, and Multnomah counties were selected in this study based on the percent of the population that is Hispanic and their proximity to Oregon State University (OSU). This study was funded by the College of Health and Human Sciences at OSU with additional support from Benton and Multnomah County Health Departments. Imported Mexican candies were collected and sent to a certified laboratory (accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELLAP) in association with EPA National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP)) for lead analysis. A limited number of candy wrappers and candy sticks were also tested for lead. Results show that 45% of the candies tested had detectable levels of lead and of those 87.5% exceed the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guideline of 0.1 ppm. Results also show that samples with detectable lead levels vary by county (28-82%). In addition, between 19% and 75% of the candies had excessive lead content by main ingredient in the candy (e.g., tamarind, chili, salt). When total micrograms of lead in a serving of candy is calculated (for samples with detectable lead), between 33 to 86% exceed FDA' s Provisional Total Tolerable Intake of Lead (PTTTL) of 6 tg lead per day by 10 to 41 times. Moreover, 50% of one brand tested had detectable lead content. This brand also had 100% of its wrappers and 94% of its sticks with excessive lead content. Statistical tests did not show a relationship between lead content of candies and ingredients. Statistical tests did not show a relationship between lead content of candies and lead content of wrappers for one brand tested. However, a negatively correlated relationship was found between lead in the candies and lead in the sticks for one brand tested. Use of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Integrated Exposure/Uptake Biokinetic Model (IEUBK) showed increases in mean Blood Lead Levels (BLL) for all age groups with two age groups exceeding the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of an elevated childhood BLL (? 10 jig/dL). Results of this study will be shared with key federal and state health and regulatory agencies for appropriate follow-up action.
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