The cultural parameters of lead poisoning: A medical anthropologist's view of intervention in environmental lead exposure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


This article identifies four culturally shaped sources of lead exposure in human societies: modern and historic technological sources; food habits; culturally defined health beliefs; and beauty practices. Examples of these potential sources of lead poisoning are presented from current cultures. They include the use of lead-glazed cooking pottery in Mexican-American households; folk medical use of lead in Hispanic, Arabic, South Asian, Chinese, and Hmong communities; as well as the use of lead a cosmetic in the Near East, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Four interacting cultural conditions that create barriers to the reduction of lead exposure and lead poisoning are identified and discussed. These are knowledge deficiencies, communication resistance, cultural reinterpretations, and incongruity of explanatory models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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