In 2007, as part of the control and prevention of environmental contamination threatening public health, the Korean Ministry of Environment planned to implement a national biomonitoring survey of three metals: lead, cadmium, and mercury in the blood of residents living near 350 abandoned metal mines known to be contaminated and as possible threats to the health of inhabitants. Thus, we investigated demographic and lifestyle variables and blood lead levels in residents living around the mines and compared them against those of control subjects. We measured the blood lead concentrations in 14,849 subjects (14,132 from nearby the 350 abandoned metal mines and 717 subjects from eight control areas). A questionnaire was provided to all subjects to determine gender, age, mining experience, period of time living in the vicinity of mines, smoking status, and personal perception of abandoned mines as a health risk. The geometric means (95% confidence intervals) of the blood lead levels of residents living around the abandoned metal mines and control areas were 3.017 (2.996-3.037 μg/dL) [female, 2.797 μg/dL (2.771-2.822 μg/dL); male, 3.330 μg/dL (3.298- 3.363 μg/dL)] and 2.757 (2.677-2.837 μg/dL) [female, 2.604 μg/dL (2.506-2.700 μg/dL); male, 2.993 μg/dL (2.859-3.126 μg/dL)], respectively. Among residents of the mining areas, nonsmokers and residents who had no mining experience showed significantly lower mean blood lead levels than did smokers, past smokers, and those with mining experience. The mean blood lead concentrations of residents who expressed some concern about the abandoned mines were significantly higher than those of residents without concerns. The mean blood lead concentration of residents living around the abandoned mines was significantly higher than that of residents living in control areas as well as that of the general adult Korean population. We also confirmed that smoking is an important variable to consider, as it increases blood lead concentration.
- Abandoned mines
- Blood lead
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law