Toxicants in folk remedies: Implications of elevated blood lead in an American-born infant due to imported diaper powder

Environmental Geochemistry and Health
By: , and 

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Abstract

Though most childhood lead exposure in the USA results from ingestion of lead-based paint dust, non-paint sources are increasingly implicated. We present interdisciplinary findings from and policy implications of a case of elevated blood lead (13–18 mcg/dL, reference level <5 mcg/dL) in a 9-month-old infant, linked to a non-commercial Malaysian folk diaper powder. Analyses showed the powder contains 62 % lead by weight (primarily lead oxide) and elevated antimony [1000 parts per million (ppm)], arsenic (55 ppm), bismuth (110 ppm), and thallium (31 ppm). These metals are highly bioaccessible in simulated gastric fluids, but only slightly bioaccessible in simulated lung fluids and simulated urine, suggesting that the primary lead exposure routes were ingestion via hand-mouth transmission and ingestion of inhaled dusts cleared from the respiratory tract. Four weeks after discontinuing use of the powder, the infant’s venous blood lead level was 8 mcg/dL. Unregulated, imported folk remedies can be a source of toxicant exposure. Additional research on import policy, product regulation, public health surveillance, and culturally sensitive risk communication is needed to develop efficacious risk reduction strategies in the USA. The more widespread use of contaminated folk remedies in the countries from which they originate is a substantial concern.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Toxicants in folk remedies: Implications of elevated blood lead in an American-born infant due to imported diaper powder
Series title Environmental Geochemistry and Health
DOI 10.1007/s10653-016-9881-6
Volume 39
Issue 5
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 1133
Last page 1143