To the Editor.—
A primary aim of childhood lead poisoning prevention programs in the United States is to identify sources of lead exposure and to prevent future exposure. House paints that contain lead often are identified as the most likely source of environmental lead to which children are exposed, especially children living in old homes in urban settings. The search for sources of lead, however, should include life-style factors in addition to the presence of lead in the physical environment. Recent reports of lead in ethnic folk remedies emphasize this point.Through lead screening programs and case reports of lead toxicity,1,2 several folk remedies have been documented as sources of lead poisoning in children. One such remedy is Azarcon, a bright orange powder used by Mexican-Hispanic parents to treat chronic indigestion or "empacho" in their children. Several samples tested were found to contain 86% to 93.5% lead tetroxide.2
Levitt C, Godes J, Eberhardt M, Ing R, Simpson JM. Sources of Lead Poisoning. JAMA. 1984;252(22):3127–3128. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350220035014
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