Scand J Work Environ Health 1996;22(5):325-331    pdf | Issue date: Oct 1996

Evaluation of selected publications on reference values for lead in blood

by Gerhardsson L, Kazantzis G, Schütz A

As a part of the global Tracy project, whose aim is to define metal concentrations in tissues and body fluids of reference populations, more than 1000 papers published from 1980 to 1994 were scrutinized that presented tentative reference values for lead in blood in occupationally unexposed adult populations. Ten studies exemplifying criteria for proper sampling, analysis and data treatment are presented and discussed. Levels of lead in blood are influenced by numerous factors. Accordingly, a wide variation in blood lead concentrations was observed. As an example, in a global study in 1983 of nonsmoking female schoolteachers, the geometric mean value for lead in blood varied from 52 µg·l-1 in Tokyo, Japan, up to 193 µg·l-1 in Mexico City. The Tracy survey demonstrates the importance of factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, food, drinking and smoking habits, hobbies, season and year of sampling, residential area, and geographic location. Lead in blood was shown to be both time and area specific. Thus it was not possible to establish a general reference value for lead in blood.

Key terms inorganic lead