Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, Health Studies Branch, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA. CRubin@cdc.gov
Developed nations share similar challenges to human health from commercial and agricultural chemicals that are released into the environment. Although Russia and the United States are historically distinct and unique, both countries are geographically large and economically dependent on emission-producing surface transportation. This paper describes U.S.-Russian collaborative activities that grew from a 1995 conference in Moscow that brought together environmental health investigators from both countries to discuss common concerns about the human health impact of environmental pollutants. Lead, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and mercury were identified as contaminants of greatest concern. Collaborative studies were initiated that included collecting blood and hair samples and splitting samples for analyses in both countries, and introducing and sharing new portable blood and environmental sample analyses instruments. The findings demonstrated that hair analysis was not a good predictor of BLL and that Russian children in the first city sampled had a mean BLL of 7.7 microg/dl. Although higher than the U.S. mean, this level was below the 10.0 microg/dl CDC level of concern. This manuscript summarizes additional study results and describes their impacts on Russian policy. On-going collaborative environmental investigations are described.
In Russia, hair, rather than blood, is usually used as a substrate for screening children for lead poisoning. We attempted to gauge the accuracy of this method by comparing these two methods. The evaluation was done in Saratov, Russia. We collected hair and blood samples from 189 children who attended 11 kindergartens. Their mean blood lead concentration was 9.8 microg/dl (range = 3.1-35.7 microg/dl), and their mean hair lead concentration was 7.2 microg/g (range = 1.0-7.2 microg/g [i.e., 1.0 being the lowest detectable limit]). Hair lead concentration as a screening method had 57% sensitivity and resulted in 18% of the children being classified as false-negatives. We conclude, therefore, that measuring hair lead concentration is not an adequate method with which to screen children for lead poisoning.