It has no biological value and is not a required nutrient1 Human

It has no biological value and is not a required nutrient1. Human activities and extensive use of lead in industry have resulted in its redistribution in the environment leading to contamination of air, water, and food and thereby a significant rise in lead concentration in human blood and body organs1. Lead toxicity affects several organ systems including the nervous, haemopoietic, renal, endocrine, and skeletal systems. Paediatric lead poisoning is associated with an increased risk of undesirable effects, by virtue of children being in the growth phase and because of their increased capacity

for absorption and retention1–3. Studies have shown that prolonged pre-school exposure to low doses of lead in childhood results in reduction of IQ scores4. Exposure to this metal can be evaluated by measuring lead in blood, teeth, hair, and bone which are then used to estimate body lead burden1. Most studies looking at lead exposure among children have used blood-lead (BPb) levels as a marker of exposure3,5. Lead in the blood has a short half-life of 30 days and reflects recent exposure and, therefore, is of limited value in predicting neurotoxicity3. Teeth accumulate lead over a long period of time and provide an integrated record of lead exposure from intrauterine life until the teeth are shed. Because the dental hard tissues are relatively

stable, Roscovitine in vitro metals deposited in teeth during mineralization are, to a large extent, retained. Unlike Thymidine kinase in bone, there is no turnover of apatite in teeth which are, therefore, the most useful material for studying past lead exposure. Primary teeth may thus be used as indicators of long-term lead exposure during early life6–8. In India, several studies9 have been undertaken to determine the BPb level, but data pertaining to tooth-lead (TPb) level is lacking. Also, the correlation between TPb and BPb levels has not received sufficient attention.

This prompted us to carry out this study with the aim of comparing primary TPb and BPb levels in children residing near a zinc–lead smelter in Dariba village, Rajasthan, India, and evaluating the effectiveness of primary teeth as bioindicators of life-long lead exposure. The present study was carried out to evaluate lead levels in primary teeth as indicators of lead exposure in children from villages located in and around a zinc–lead smelter in Dariba, Rajasthan, India. The study group consisted of 100 children in the age group of 5–13 years, residing in any of five villages located within a radius of 4 km from the zinc–lead smelter. Each of these children had at least one healthy primary tooth nearing exfoliation or requiring extraction for therapeutic purposes. The children were grouped into three for convenience of sample collection, based on age and time of tooth exfoliation as follows: (i) 5–8 years (ii) 9–11 years, and (iii) 12–13 years.

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