Lead in candy consumed and blood lead levels of children living in Mexico City

Marcela Tamayo y Ortiz, Martha María Téllez-Rojo, Howard Hu, Mauricio Hernández-Ávila, Robert Wright, Chitra Amarasiriwardena, Nicola Lupoli, Adriana Mercado-García, Ivan Pantic, Héctor Lamadrid-Figueroa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Recent studies have shown that lead exposure continues to pose a health risk in Mexico. Children are a vulnerable population for lead effects and Mexican candy has been found to be a source of exposure in children. There are no previous studies that estimates lead concentrations in candy that children living in Mexico City consume and its association with their blood lead level. Objectives: To evaluate whether there is an association between reported recent consumption of candies identified to have lead, and blood lead levels among children in Mexico City. Methods: A subsample of 171 children ages 2-6 years old, from the Early Life Exposure in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) cohort study was assessed between June 2006 and July 2007. The candy reported most frequently were analyzed for lead using ICP-MS. The total weekly intake of lead through the consumption of candy in the previous week was calculated. Capillary blood lead levels (BLL) were measured using LeadCare (anodic stripping voltammetry). Results: Lead concentrations ≥0.1 ppm, the FDA permitted level (range: 0.13-0.7 ppm) were found in 6 samples out of 138 samples from 44 different brands of candy. Median BLL in children was 4.5 μg/dl. After adjusting for child's sex, age, BMI, maternal education & occupation, milk consumption, sucking the candy wrapper, use of lead-glazed pottery, child exposure behavior, living near a lead exposure site and use of folk remedies, an increase of 1 μg of lead ingested through candy per week was associated with 3% change (95% CI: 0.1%, 5.2%) in BLL. Conclusions: Although lead concentrations in candy were mostly below the FDA permitted level, high lead concentrations were detected in 4% of the candy samples and 12% of brands analyzed. Although candy intake was modestly associated with children's BLL, lead should not be found in consumer products, especially in candy that children can consume due to the well documented long-lasting effect of lead exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-502
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 1 May 2016


  • Candy
  • Children
  • Lead
  • Mexico


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