Washington [US], August 18 (ANI): According to research, chronic lead exposure, even at low levels, can impair cognitive and motor function as well as harm the brain and other organs.
But secondhand smoke has gone largely unnoticed as a potential source of lead exposure in kids.
The association between secondhand smoke and lead exposure in children is examined in a recent study that was published in the journal BMC Public Health.
Alexander Obeng, a PhD candidate in the Texas A&M University School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, examined data on blood lead levels and secondhand smoke exposure in kids and teenagers aged 6 to 19 for the study. Professors Dr Genny Carrillo and Dr Taehyun Roh oversaw the study.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)’s 2015–2016 and 2017–2018 cycles were used by the researchers. The NHANES is a sizable, highly acclaimed, and nationally representative health survey.
The researchers examined lead and the nicotine metabolite cotinine in data from 2,815 children and adolescents. Cotinine concentrations serve as a marker for tobacco smoke exposure.
Participants were divided into groups according to age and blood cotinine levels, with ages ranging from 6 to 10, 11 to 15, and 16 to 19, as well as low, intermediate, and heavy cotinine levels.
Additionally, they gathered information on household education level, obesity, age, gender, race, and ethnicity.
According to the analysis, cotinine levels and blood lead levels are connected. They discovered that while Hispanic individuals had the lowest average blood lead levels, male and non-Hispanic Black participants had blood lead levels above the median.
These results appear to be consistent with studies that demonstrate non-Hispanic Black adults’ higher smoking rates compared to Hispanic ones.
The 6-to-10 age group had the highest percentage of participants with blood lead levels above the median, with an increasing trend in older groups, the researchers also discovered.
Younger children may behave differently than older children, putting their hands and other objects in their mouths more frequently, or they may absorb more lead than older children and adults.
Additionally, the scientists discovered that fat kids and teenagers had significantly lower lead levels than non-obese subjects. The results of this study show that lead exposure in children and adolescents may come from secondhand smoke.
“Further research will likely paint a clearer picture of this exposure route, especially in younger children, but the findings here can inform current efforts to eliminate low-level lead exposure in children,” Carrillo said.
“For example, education of parents about secondhand smoke as a source of lead exposure could help decrease lead exposure in children and further build on the successes of past lead removal initiatives.” (ANI)