New York: Secondhand smoke is a largely overlooked source of lead exposure in children, according to a study.

Researchers from Texas A&M University in the US analysed data on 2,815 children and adolescents’ blood lead levels and secondhand smoke exposure in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19. They looked at levels of lead and a metabolite of nicotine known as cotinine.

Levels of cotinine act as an indicator of exposure to tobacco smoke. The findings, published in the journal BMC Public Health, found that blood lead levels correlated with cotinine


Lead levels were 18 per cent higher in participants in the intermediate cotinine group and 29 per cent higher in the heavy group compared to those with low blood cotinine. The researchers also found that the 6-to-10 age cohort had the highest percentage of participants whose blood lead levels were over the median, with a decreasing trend in older groups.

“For example, education of parents about secondhand smoke as a source of lead exposure could help decrease lead exposure in children and further build on the successes of past lead removal initiatives,” Carrillo added.
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