2-FUN - Case study no.3

Case study no.3 of the 2-FUN project dealt with health risk assessment towards children living in the industrial area of Upper Silesia in Poland. The area is the most heavily industrialised and urbanised region in the country, and the majority of industrial plants are located in the central part of the region. The central part is also supplied with the highest density of roads, and it is considered as the most contaminated area in Poland. However, contamination has decreased since the 1990’s due to dramatically diminishing dust emissions. The aim of this sustainable living achievement study was to collect lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) soil contamination and in situ bio sensing data for the 1993-2008 period and find relationships between environmental contamination and health outcomes. Environmental exposure focused on vulnerable individuals such as children, who can be exposed through specific exposure pathways.

The children’s exposure to Pb and Cd was addressed through biological monitoring of samples from blood, urine and hair. Pb blood level (Pb-B) was the most frequent parameter for determining children exposure to lead. The occurrence of Pb-B in children’s blood above the threshold reference was associated with their presence in the central part of the region and socio-economic conditions of the families. A correlation between Pb-B and Pb in hair has been identified, and so has a slight correlation between Pb and Cd in hair.

The collected environmental data came from three different sources. Regional data were used for trend monitoring, whereas agricultural monitoring data were applied for spatial differences. The third source of data focused on children's habitats. Both Pb and Cd levels in children blood (PbB, CdB) as well as haemoglobin concentration (Hb) were analysed from temporal and spatial point of view. Children morbidity during the period 2003-2008 on anaemia, urinary tract diseases, hypertension and cancer were also taken into account.

The results from the study indicated that a lack of trends concerning the content of Pb and Cd in soil was observed. The median of metal contents exceeded the Polish permissible levels for agricultural and residential areas in 30% of counties for Pb and 20% for Cd. The analysed blood Pb data for children up to 18 years old showed a strong decreasing tendency. The simultaneous measurement of Hb showed a clear relationship with the blood Pb level. Cd biomonitoring was very limited, which made further analyses almost impossible, although the environmental burden with Cd seems to be at least the same problem as in the case of Pb.


2-FUN newsletter no.3 and no.8