Heavy metal blood concentrations in association with sociocultural characteristics, anthropometry and anemia among Kenyan adolescents

Jillian Ashley-Martin, Lora Iannotti, Carolyn Lesorogol, Charles E. Hilton, Charles Owuor Olungah, Theodore Zava, Belinda L. Needham, Yuhan Cui, Eleanor Brindle, Bilinda Straight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: To measure heavy metal concentrations among Kenyan youth and quantify associations with sociocultural, demographic, and health factors as well as anthropometry. Methods: Using data from a study of semi-nomadic pastoralists in Samburu County, Kenya, we measured blood concentrations of lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and cadmium (Cd) in 161 adolescents. We identified sociocultural, demographic and health characteristics associated with each metal and quantified the association between metals and adolescent anthropometry. Results: Median blood concentrations of Pb, Cd, and Hg were 1.82 µg/dL, 0.24 µg/L and 0.16 µg/L, respectively. Place of residence (highlands vs lowlands) was a determinant of metal concentrations. Hg was inversely related to anemia, and metals were not associated with anthropometry. Conclusions: In this population of Samburu adolescents, median Pb and Cd blood concentrations were higher than other North American or European biomonitoring studies. These findings motivate further investigation into the environmental sources of metals in this community.

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • anthropometry
  • cadmium
  • Kenya
  • Lead
  • mercury

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