Children attending schools in urban areas with high traffic density are a high risk group for lead poisoning. We assessed the magnitude of lead exposure in schoolchildren from Jakarta by analyzing blood lead concentrations and biomarkers of heme biosynthesis. A total of 131 children from four public elementary schools in Jakarta (two in the southern district and two in the central district) were enrolled in the study. To evaluate lead pollution in each area, soil samples and tap water were collected. The mean blood lead concentration was higher in the central district than in the southern district (8.3 +/- 2.8 vs. 6.9 +/- 3.5 microg/100 ml; p<0.05); 26.7% of the children had lead levels greater than 10 microg/100 ml. In 24% of the children, zinc protoporphyrin concentrations were over 70 micromol/mol hemoglobin; in 17% of the samples, hemoglobin was less than 11 g/100 ml. All other values were within the physiological range. Blood lead concentration and hematological biomarkers were not correlated. Analyses of tap water revealed lead values under 0. 01 mg/l; lead contamination of soil ranged from 77 to 223 ppm. Our data indicate that Indonesian children living in urban areas are at increased risk for blood lead levels above the actual acceptable limit. Activities to reduce pollution (e.g., reduction of lead in gasoline) and continuous monitoring of lead exposure are strongly recommended
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