Effect of Environmental Exposure on the Lead Levels in Human Blood in Kenya

Richard Mogwasi, Hudson Nyambaka, Jane Murungi, Zachary Getenga, Lydia Kimoro, Enock Okiambe, Benuel Nyagaka


Lead is one of the heavy metals associated with a number of health problems such as abdominal pains, constipation and loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, headache, irritability, dizziness and lead encephalopathy. The major source of lead into the environment is through emission from auto exhaust in countries still using leaded fuel, with other contributors being cigarette smoke, burning of lead battery castings, weathering, ceramic industries and paints. Therefore there is need for continued monitoring of the levels of lead in the environment and in people to determine the level of exposure. The aim of the study was to determine the effect of environmental exposure on the levels of lead in human blood in Nairobi City and Nyamira District, Kenya. The subjects who had lived in the study areas continuously for five years were randomly selected and recruited for the study. The study used a questionnaire to assess lead exposure factors of the recruits, while atomic absorption spectroscopy and differential pulse anodic stripping voltammetry were used for determining the lead levels. The subjects in Nairobi City Centre had the highest mean blood lead (BPb) level of 29.9 + 16.91 µg/l, while Nyamira Rural subjects had the lowest mean of 24.20 + 7.07 µg/l. The mean lead level of the subjects was statistically significant between Nairobi City Centre and Nyamira Rural (P < 0.01, df = 99). The smokers, those who travelled frequently, the users of glazed ceramics, those who worked in industries and those who lived near busy roads had higher levels of blood lead. The study provides an additional data pointing to elevated blood lead levels in environmentally exposed individuals.

Keywords: Lead, environmental exposure, human blood, AAS, DPASV.


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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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