Blood lead determinants and the prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms in firearm users in Mexico

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2016;29(2):219-28. doi: 10.13075/ijomeh.1896.00358.


Objectives: To identify blood lead predictors and the prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms in firearm users of public security in Mexico.

Material and methods: A cross-sectional study was performed on 65 males. We obtained socio-occupational data and determined venous blood lead (blood (B), lead (Pb) - BPb), as well as neuropsychiatric symptoms using the Q-16 questionnaire. A multiple linear regression model was constructed to assess determinants of BPb.

Results: The mean age in the study group was 34.8 years (standard deviation (SD) = 6.9, range: 21-60); the mean number of years spent in the company amounted to 14 years (SD = 8.5, range: 1-48). Twenty percent of the respondents (N = 13) used leaded glazed clay pottery (lead (Pb), glazed (G), and clay pottery (C) - PbGC) in the kitchen. During practice they fired a mean of 72 shots (SD = 60, range: 20-250), and during their whole duration of employment 5483 shots (SD = 8322.5, range: 200-50 000). The mean BPb was 7.6 μg/dl (SD = 6.8, range: 2.7-51.7). Two caretakers from the firing range had 29.6 μg/dl and 51.7 μg/dl BPb. The subjects who had shooting practice sessions ≥ 12 times a year reported a greater percentage of miscarriages in their partners (24% vs. 0%). Twelve percent of the respondents showed an increase in neuropsychiatric symptoms. The BPb multiple linear regression model explained R2 = 44.15%, as follows: those who had ≥ 12 practice sessions per year - β = 0.5339 and those who used PbGC - β = 0.3651.

Conclusions: Using firearms and PbGC contributes to the increased BPb in the studied personnel. The determinants of BPb were: shooting practices >12 times a year and using PbGC. Blood lead concentrations reported in the study, despite being low, are a health risk, as evidenced by the prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Keywords: blood lead; firearms; heavy metal toxicity; lead exposure; neuropsychiatric symptoms; occupational exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lead / blood*
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / blood*
  • Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / psychology
  • Occupational Diseases / blood*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Young Adult


  • Lead