Environmental contamination and human exposure to lead in Brazil

Monica M.B. Paoliello, Eduardo M. De Capitani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Adverse effects caused by environmental lead pollution are well recognized. Being a widespread agent in the environment and a major harmful element to organic systems, mostly to children, lead has been investigated all over the world, aiming to improve measures regarding its control. The purpose of this chapter is to present a review of the situation of production, uses, assessment of exposure, and adverse effects from environmental lead contamination in Brazil. It also presents aspects of Brazilian legislation setting up maximum permissible levels of lead in several environmental compartments such as surface and drinking water, soils, sediment, urban air, and also in commercially sold food, vegetables, fish, and meat, in an effort to control industrial emissions. Epidemiological investigations on children's lead exposure around industrial and mining areas are revised, showing that many situations where lead contamination is potentially present still need to be addressed by governmental agencies. In Brazil, lead was withdrawn from gasoline by the end of the 1980s, and the last lead mining and primary smelting plant was closed in 1995, leaving residual environmental lead contamination, which has recently been investigated using a multidisciplinary approach. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of small secondary battery recycling plants all over the country, running smelting facilities that produce local urban areas of lead contamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-96
Number of pages38
JournalReviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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