Childhood lead poisoning in Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority.


Environmental Protection and Research Institute, Gaza Strip, Palestine; Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Al-Azhar University-Gaza, Palestine. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : To assess lead poisoning among a pediatric population in Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority.
METHODS : A total of 1705 questionnaires and blood samples were collected from children aged 2-6 years, by the finger stick capillary procedure, for the assessment of blood lead level (BLL), using the LeadCare kits. The samples were collected from children living close to lead processing units (hotspots) and far 100-500 m away (general population). Management of elevated BLL was achieved by gavage of chelating agent d-penicillamine at a dose of 30 mg kg-1 body weight/day for two weeks for children having BLL above 20 μg/dl. Data were statistically analyzed using SPSS computer program version 22.
RESULTS : Distribution of children in Gaza Strip by sampling process illustrated those 326 children (19.1%) living in lead processing units (hot spots) and 1379 children (80.9%) from location far away 100-500 m from host spot (general population). The mean BLL was 10.4 μg/dl. A total of 440 children (25.8%) were found to be having BLL ≥ 10 μg/dl while 1265 children (74.2%) have BLL < 10 μg/dl. BLL < 10 μg/dl was taken as a cut point due to CDC standards. The prevalence of BLL in hotspot areas in children who were exposed to lead and have BLL ≥ 10 μg/dl was 95.7% while in general population it was 9.3%. The difference between the study population was statistically significant (p < 0.01). Statistical significant differences between the study populations were found among several independent variables of risk factors such as household location and exposure sources, and occupational exposure. Gavage of d-penicillamine significantly reduced BLL to the acceptable level (BLL < 10 μg/dl).
CONCLUSIONS : Childhood lead poisoning accounts for a substantial burden in Gaza Strip. Hotspots of lead-related industries are the high risk areas that contributing to high BLLs in children. d-Penicillamine was effective in the treatment of lead poisoning among children. Health education and treatment campaigns should be designed to minimize or prevent childhood lead poisoning in Gaza Strip.


Lead poisoning,Palestinian Authority,Pediatric population,d-Penicillamine,