Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1987;13(3):218-220    pdf


Lead level of whole blood and plasma in workers exposed to lead stearate.

by Cavalleri A, Minoia C

In a group of 23 male workers exposed to lead stearate the levels of lead in whole blood and plasma were determined and compared to those obtained from a group of 23 subjects exposed to inorganic lead compounds. The mean values for lead in whole blood were similar in both groups, while the mean lead concentration in plasma was 0.1729 (SD 0.0677) mumol/l for those exposed to lead stearate and 0.0936 (SD 0.0577) mumol/l for those exposed to other lead compounds. The difference was highly significant. The percentage ratio for lead in plasma to lead in whole blood, which can be considered a "bioavailability index" for lead, proved to be two times higher for stearate workers than for subjects exposed to inorganic lead compounds. The data suggest that the different chemical properties of absorbed lead stearate may cause a different distribution of the metal in different blood compartments, the plasma compartment having a higher affinity for lead stearate than for other lead compounds. Because the plasma fraction has a greater bioavailability, lead stearate could induce toxic effects that differ (possibly being severer) from those caused by other lead compounds at similar absorbed doses.