Blood lead, cadmium and mercury among children from urban, industrial and rural areas of Fez Boulemane Region (Morocco): Relevant factors and early renal effects

Xavier Dumont 2,  
Badiaa Lyoussi 1, 4  
Laboratory of Physiology, Pharmacology and Environmental Health, Faculty of Sciences DM, USMBA University, Fez, Morocco
Unit of Industrial Toxicology and Occupational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium
Laboratory of Genetic Neuroendocrinology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Sciences University of Ibn Tofaïl, Kenitra, Morocco
Laboratory of Physiology, Pharmacology and Environmental Health, PO. BOX: 1796, Fez Atlas, Morocco
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2014;27(4):641–659
Objectives: To describe blood lead (Pb-B), cadmium (Cd-B) and mercury (Hg-B) levels in children living in urban, industrial and rural areas in Fez city (north of Morocco) and to identify the determinants and some renal effects of exposure. Material and Methods: The study was conducted from June 2007 to January 2008 in 209 school children (113 girls, 96 boys), aged 6-12 years, from urban, industrial and rural areas in Fez city. Interview and questionnaires data were obtained. Blood and urinary samples were analyzed. Results: The mean of blood lead levels (Pb-B) in our population was 55.53 μg/l (range: 7.5-231.1 μg/l). Children from the urban area had higher blood lead levels (BLLs) mean (82.36 μg/l) than children from industrial and rural areas (48.23 and 35.99 μg/l, respectively); with no significant difference between boys and girls. BLLs were associated with traffic intensity, passive smoking and infancy in the urban area. The mean of blood cadmium levels (BCLs) was 0.22 μg/l (range: 0.06-0.68 μg/l), with no difference between various areas. Rural boys had higher BCLs mean than rural girls, but no gender influence was noticed in the other areas. BCLs were associated with the number of cigarettes smoked at children's homes. The blood mercury levels (BMLs) mean was 0.49 μg/l (range: 0.01-5.31 μg/l). The BMLs mean was higher in urban and industrial areas than in the rural area with no gender-related difference. BMLs were associated with amalgam fillings and infancy in the urban area. About 8% of the children had BLLs ≥ 100 μg/l particularly in the urban area, microalbuminuria and a decrease in height were noticed in girls from the inner city of Fez and that can be related to high BLLs (89.45 μg/l). Conclusions: There is a need to control and regulate potential sources of contamination by these trace elements in children; particularly for lead.