Exposure to metal(loid)s can lead to adverse effects on nervous system in children. However, little is known about the possible interaction effects of simultaneous exposure to multiple metal(loid)s on children's intelligence. In addition, relationship between blood lead concentrations (<100 μg/L) and the intelligence of children over 5 years needs further epidemiological evidence. We recruited 530 children aged 9–11 years, including 266 living in a town near an industrialized area and 264 from another town in the same city in South China as a reference. The levels of lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As) and mercury (Hg) in blood (BPb, BCd, BAs, BHg) and urine (UPb, UCd, UAs, UHg) were assessed, as well as children's intelligence quotient (IQ). A significant decrease in IQ scores was identified in children from the industrialized town (p < .05), who had statistically higher geometric mean concentrations of BPb, BCd, UPb, UCd and UHg (65.89, 1.93, 4.04, 1.43 and 0.37 μg/L, respectively) compared with children from the reference town (37.21, 1.07, 2.14, 1.02 and 0.30 μg/L, respectively, p < .05). After adjusting confounders, only BPb had a significant negative association with IQ (B = −0.10, 95% confidence interval: −0.15 to −0.05, p < .001), which indicated that IQ decreased 0.10 points when BPb increased 1 μg/L. Significant negative interactions between BAs and BHg, positive interaction between UPb and UCd on IQ were observed (p < .10), and BPb <100 μg/L still negatively affected IQ (p < .05). Our findings suggest that although only BPb causes a decline in children's IQ when simultaneously exposed to these four metal(loid)s at relatively low levels, interactions between metal(loid)s on children's IQ should be paid special attention, and the reference standard in China of 100 μg/L BPb for children above 5 years old should be revised.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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