A noninvasive isotopic approach to estimate the bone lead contribution to blood in children: implications for assessing the efficacy of lead abatement

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Date: Jan. 2005
From: Environmental Health Perspectives(Vol. 113, Issue 1)
Publisher: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Document Type: Article
Length: 7,522 words

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Lead hazard control measures to reduce children's exposure to household lead sources often result in only limited reductions in blood lead levels. This may be due to incomplete remediation of lead sources and/or to the remobilization of lead stores from bone, which may act as an endogenous lead source that buffers reductions in blood lead levels. Here we present a noninvasive isotopic approach to estimate the magnitude of the bone lead contribution to blood in children following household lead remediation. In this approach, lead isotopic ratios of a child's blood and 5-day fecal samples are determined before and after a household intervention aimed at reducing the child's lead intake. The bone lead contribution to blood is estimated from a system of mass balance equations of lead concentrations and isotopic compositions in blood at the different times of sample collection. The utility of this method is illustrated with three cases of children with blood lead levels in the range of 18-29 [micro]g/dL. In all three cases, the release of lead from bone supported a substantial fraction of the measured blood lead level postintervention, up to 96% in one case. In general, the lead isotopic compositions of feces matched or were within the range of the lead isotopic compositions of the household dusts with lead loadings exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency action levels. This isotopic agreement underscores the utility of lead isotopic measurements of feces to identify household sources of lead exposure. Results from this limited number of cases support the hypothesis that the release of bone lead into blood may substantially buffer the decrease in blood lead levels expected from the reduction in lead intake. Key words: abatement efficacy, blood lead, bone lead, fecal lead, lead abatement, lead hazards, lead isotopes, lead loadings. doi:10.1289/ehp.7241 available via http://dx.doi.org/[Online 7 October 2004]


Most (> 70%) of the body lead burden in children is contained within the skeleton (Barry 1981). Because lead is qualitatively a biologic analog to calcium, its uptake and release from the skeleton are partly controlled by processes affecting bone growth and remover (Hu et al. 1998; O'Flaherty 1998). In adults, skeletal lead is contained within long-lived compartments of cortical [elimination half-life ([t.sub.1/2]) > 5-10 years] and trabecular (elimination [t.sub.1/2] > 1 year) bone, with comparatively small amounts of lead in tissue compartments that rapidly exchange with extracellular fluid and plasma (Hu et al. 1998; Leggett 1993; O'Flaherty 1998; Rabinowitz et al. 1976). In children, however, the turnover rates of skeletal reservoirs of lead and the impact of bone lead releases on blood lead content are not well understood. In children exposed to lead hazards, the accumulation of lead in bone and other tissues is of serious concern because these body lead stores are believed to serve as internal sources of lead to blood during bone remodeling (Gulson et al. 1996, 1997b; Leggett I993; Nordberg et al. 1991; O'Flaherty 1994). Moreover, mobilization of accumulated skeletal lead stores back into blood is suspected to be responsible for the apparent limited success of...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A136511544