Lead (Pb) exposure increases the risks of neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Child-specific activities and land use scenarios may lead to elevated opportunities for Pb exposure through the soil. Therefore, we investigated hair and fingernail Pb concentrations among young children in northern Taiwan, in relation to soil Pb pollution and land use characteristics. We also explored the effect of the Pb exposure burden and land use scenarios on neurobehavioral development. In total, 139 healthy children under 3 years of age were recruited in October 2011 to April 2014. Pb levels in hair and fingernail samples were determined using an inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometer. Pb concentrations in soils and land use types surrounding the children's homes were accessed by a geographic information system to identify any associations with hair Pb levels. The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (Bayley-III) were used to evaluate the cognitive, language, and motor development of the children. A multivariable regression model was performed to assess the effects of soil Pb levels and land-use status on Pb exposure in children, as well as associations of Pb exposure and land-use scenarios with neurodevelopmental abilities. Geometric mean Pb concentrations in hair, fingernails, and soil were 2.9 ± 4.8 μg/g, 0.8 ± 5.1 μg/g, and 20.8 ± 4.3 mg/kg, respectively. The multivariable analysis indicated that soil Pb concentrations and green areas around residences had potential links with Pb exposure among children in northern Taiwan. Hair Pb concentrations were negatively associated with expressive language scores. Soil Pb exposure was positively associated with hair Pb concentrations. Land use types around the children's homes in northern Taiwan were associated with their neurodevelopment. Increased green areas were negatively associated with hair Pb concentrations. Living near a highway may have had negative impacts on gross motor scores. A healthy residence can avoid potential health risks for children during their early life.
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