Resources for Immigrant Communities

In the news


Heavy metal poisoning caused by Chinese folk remedies in psoriasis patients: a retrospective analysis. Abstract: Psoriasis, characterized as a chronic relapsing disease with a protracted course, often drives patients to seek relief through Chinese folk remedies (CFR). Nonetheless, the complex compositions of these remedies frequently result in unintended adverse effects, notably various types of heavy metal poisoning. Our study involved an exhaustive collection and analysis of clinical data from psoriasis patients who developed heavy metal poisoning due to CFR usage, admitted to Beijing Chao-Yang Hospital from January 2011 to October 2023. Our analysis identified 44 cases of mercury poisoning, 17 of lead poisoning, 21 of arsenic poisoning, and 4 instances of mixed heavy metal poisoning. The folk remedies used ranged from fumigation and inhalation to skin application and oral administration. Distinct pathogenic characteristics were observed in each poisoning type. After treatment with metal chelating agents, all patients experienced a reduction in heavy metal levels in their bodies, accompanied by varying degrees of symptom alleviation. This study underscores the vital necessity of opting for formal, medically approved treatments for psoriasis, thereby avoiding the hazardous consequences of unregulated folk remedies that may lead to severe heavy metal poisoning. 

Lead in Cookware: a problem for immigrant families. This week Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the Lead in Cookware Act, which will ban the toxic from any products used to cook food. This is particularly a problem with cookware produced overseas and used in immigrant households. Below are some links to the coverage of this news from the State of Washington. CLASH consultant Dr. Maria Jose Talayero Schettino opens her presentation on lead and crime with several slides showing the cookware she ate from in her native Mexico and later treated as a pediatrician in Mexico City before coming to GW university to get her PhD in Public Health. 

February 15, 2023. New Bedford Light. Undocumented immigrants fall through the cracks with child lead poisoning. "Doctors see higher level of immigrant children with elevated lead levels; advocates say immigrants are reluctant to report lead paint problems for fear of deportation. When children are poisoned by lead paint, the state has systems in place to help. But those resources are often out of reach for children in families of undocumented immigrants. The parents fear that allowing a lead inspector into their home could lead to deportation. Their landlords have little incentive to remove the hazard. And funding programs for lead paint removal require documentation that they don’t have. 'They don’t trust anything that has to do with officials,' said Helena DaSilva Hughes, director of New Bedford’s Immigrants Assistance Center. 'They’re afraid that it’s going to expose their immigration status.' ”

Academic Studies

18 June 2019 Association between self-reported length of time in the USA and blood lead levels: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2013– 2016. "Objectives The aim of this study is to determine the association between length of time in the USA with blood lead (BPb). Design Population-based cross-sectional study using data from the 2013–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants 5933 men and women (≥15 years); subgroups of men only (n=2867), women only (n=3064) and women of childbearing age (15–45 years) (n=1580). Primary and secondary outcomes The primary outcome was BPb concentration. The main exposure variable was self-reported number of years spent in the USA, categorised as: born in the USA; 0–4 years; 5–9 years; 10–19 years and ≥20 years. We used linear regression models adjusted for race/ethnicity, education, blood cotinine, age, sex (as appropriate) and accounted for complex survey design. Results Women of childbearing age who have lived 0–4 years in the USA have, on average, a 54% (95% CI 36% to 75%) higher BPb compared with women born in the USA. Corresponding results for all women, men and the entire population were 49%  Similar, statistically significant, results were observed for other time periods (5–9 years, 10–19 years and ≥20 years); the magnitude of the association decreased with increasing time in the USA. Conclusions This study provides additional evidence that newcomers to the USA may be a population at higher risk of elevated BPb.