STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine blood lead concentrations in children living in an area with a battery plant in Berat, Albania. Another aim was to determine blood lead concentrations in mothers and cord blood levels in neonates from Berat and compare them with values found in Tirana. DESIGN: Cross sectional survey with a 10% random sample of children, and a 10% sample of mothers and newborn. SETTING: Hospitals, schools, and kinder-gartens in Berat and Tirana, Albania PARTICIPANTS: 129 preschool children, 373 school children, 151 mothers and their newborn. MAIN RESULTS: The mean observed blood lead concentrations in 84 preschool children living less than 2 km from the battery plant was 43.4 micrograms/dl (SD 23.0) and significantly higher than in 45 preschool children (mean 15.0 micrograms/dl, SD 3.5) living more than 2 km from the plant. Mean lead concentrations in 145 school children living close to the plant were 26.6 micrograms/dl (SD 14.4) compared with 16.0 micrograms/dl in 228 school children living at a greater distance. In 67% of the preschool children and 41% of the school children lead levels exceeded the WHO borderline level of 20 micrograms/dl, and 98% of preschool children, and 82% of school children had values greater than 10 micrograms/dl. Mean lead concentrations in cord blood of 151 newborn was 8.9 micrograms/dl (median 8.8, range 4.9-20.0 micrograms/dl), and 10.6 micrograms/dl in blood of their mothers (median 10.0, range 5.0-25.4 micrograms/dl). Mean lead concentrations in Tirana were 8.9 (newborn), and 7.0 micrograms/dl (mothers). CONCLUSIONS: Blood lead concentrations in children from Berat are comparatively high and abatement measures are needed.
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