1 June 2012

Health Baseline within Different IAs - Presentation 4

Lead Exposure in Native Children and Oil Activity in Peru

Case study in the Corrientes river basin where there are 36 communities of 8000 people. majority of them are poor, subsistence based economy.

Oil industry started in the 1970s and was linked to negative environmental impacts.

Heavy metal soil and water contamination as well as oil spills.


Community concerns led to a toxicological survey in 2005:

  • 66% had high blood lead levels
  • No significant water or soil pollution
Another study in 2011 conducted to test lead levels in three communities two exposed to oil installations and one not.


Found that blood lead levels in children were at similar levels for both exposed and non exposed communities and environmental samples showed levels below reference levels (from international literature).


Undertook a further study with more communities, 6 communities studied, 2 highly exposed, 2 moderately exposed and two not exposed as judged by distance from oil facilities.


Data collection:

  • Blood lead levels
  • Heamoglobin levels
  • Risk factors questionnaies to head of families
  • Environmental sampling of water, soil and fish
  • Food sampling


  • 346 people studied
  • 27% had high lead levels
  • High levels in highly exposed communities, and age 7-17 years
  • Children playing with pieces of lead, chewing pieces of lead and fishing more than 3 times a week were lictors of high blood levels
  • Environmental levels were below defence levels

  • Contact with lead and exposure to oil facilities had high lead levels.
  • But why given no high levels in the environment
  • Because greater access to oil facilities waste, communities extracted lead from this waste informally, majority of men work for the oil companies, families keep scraps of lead in the home.
  • We recommended - improved control of industrial waste, public awareness program on preventing lead exposure, replacement of lead with other materials to construct fishing weights.