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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 193715, 10 pages
Research Article

Childhood Lead Exposure from Battery Recycling in Vietnam

1Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Box 357234, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
2National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health, 57 Le Quy Don, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi, Vietnam
3School of Medicine, University of Washington, Box 356340, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
4Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, 300 George Street, Suite 901, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
5Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Karonga Prevention Study, P.O. Box 46, Chilumba, Karonga District, Malawi
6Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences and Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Box 354695, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
7Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Box 354695, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
8Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Box 359739, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Received 3 June 2015; Revised 18 September 2015; Accepted 29 September 2015

Academic Editor: Teresa Coccini

Copyright © 2015 William E. Daniell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Battery recycling facilities in developing countries can cause community lead exposure. Objective. To evaluate child lead exposure in a Vietnam battery recycling craft village after efforts to shift home-based recycling outside the village. Methods. This cross-sectional study evaluated 109 children in Dong Mai village, using blood lead level (BLL) measurement, parent interview, and household observation. Blood samples were analyzed with a LeadCare II field instrument; highest BLLs (≥45 μg/dL) were retested by laboratory analysis. Surface and soil lead were measured at 11 households and a school with X-ray fluorescence analyzer. Results. All children had high BLLs; 28% had BLL ≥45 μg/dL. Younger age, family recycling, and outside brick surfaces were associated with higher BLL. Surface and soil lead levels were high at all tested homes, even with no recycling history. Laboratory BLLs were lower than LeadCare BLLs, in 24 retested children. Discussion. In spite of improvements, lead exposure was still substantial and probably associated with continued home-based recycling, legacy contamination, and workplace take-home exposure pathways. There is a need for effective strategies to manage lead exposure from battery recycling in craft villages. These reported BLL values should be interpreted cautiously, although the observed field-laboratory discordance may reflect bias in laboratory results.