Increased lead absorption in children living in an area with high concentration of ceramic workshops

Med Lav. 1992 Nov-Dec;83(6):576-86.


Children who live in contaminated areas or whose cohabitants are occupationally exposed to lead are at a higher risk of lead absorption. The present study examined the blood lead levels of 539 nursery and primary school children living in three towns in the Umbria region (central Italy): Deruta, Corciano and Perugia. Deruta is a small town with a high number of ceramic workshops; Corciano is a mainly agricultural centre; Perugia is the largest town in Umbria. The lead concentrations of house dust, soil, air and water ducts of Deruta and Corciano were also examined. The blood lead levels were significantly increased in children in Deruta (9.7 S.D. = 3.6 micrograms/dL, p < 0.05) and Perugia (9.6 S.D. = 4.0 micrograms/dL, p < 0.05) compared to Corciano (8.3 S.D. = 1.9 micrograms/dL). In Deruta the blood lead levels were higher in children whose cohabitants worked in small ceramic factories or workshops near or in the homes (10.7 S.D. = 4.1 vs 9.0 S.D. = 3.0 micrograms/dL, p < 0.05). The mean concentration of lead in the house dust in Deruta was higher than in Corciano (2.8 S.D. = 2.5 vs 0.8 S.D. = 3.8 micrograms/m2, p < 0.01); the highest values were found in the house dust of the homes of children whose cohabitants worked in small ceramic factories either near or in the same building. There was no significant difference between the concentrations of lead in street dust or tap water of Deruta and Corciano. We conclude that the production of handworked ceramics could lead to an increased risk of lead absorption in children, particularly those who live with workers from this sector.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Ceramics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dust / analysis
  • Female
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Lead / adverse effects*
  • Lead / blood
  • Male
  • Soil Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic
  • Urban Population*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Lead