Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Lead and Arsenic in Shed Deciduous Teeth of Children Living Near a Lead-Acid Battery Smelter.

Authors: Johnston, Jill E; Franklin, Meredith; Roh, Hannah; Austin, Christine; Arora, Manish

Published In Environ Sci Technol, (2019 05 21)

Abstract: Lead (Pb) is a potent neurotoxicant with no safe level of exposure. Elevated levels of Pb and arsenic (As) are found in the air and soil near facilities that recycle lead-acid batteries in the United States. In urban Los Angeles County, California, a facility processed ∼11 million batteries per year and operated for decades without proper environmental review. Measuring Pb and As in shed deciduous teeth is a promising technique to assess prenatal and early life exposure. In this pilot study coined the "Truth Fairy" Project, 50 shed deciduous teeth from 43 children living their entire lives within 2 miles of the smelter were analyzed to understand retrospective exposure to toxic metals using a community-driven research approach. Concentrations of Pb and As in teeth were assessed using laser-ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Soil Pb concentrations were determined using spatial kriging of surface soil measurements. The mean prenatal calcium normalized Pb levels in teeth samples (reported as a ratio 208Pb:43Ca) was 4.104 × 10-4 (SD 4.123 × 10-4), and the mean postnatal 208Pb:43Ca level was 4.109 × 10-4 (SD 3.369 × 10-4). Adjusted for maternal education and batch, we observe positive significant relationship between prenatal teeth Pb per 100 ppm increase in soil Pb (β = 3.48, 95% CI 1.11, 5.86). The Truth Fairy study suggests prenatal and early life exposure to toxic metals is associated with legacy soil contamination in an urban community near a smelter.

PubMed ID: 31056909 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Arsenic*; California; Child; Environmental Exposure; Female; Humans; Pilot Projects; Pregnancy; Retrospective Studies; Soil Pollutants*; Tooth, Deciduous

to Top