Identification of sources of lead exposure in French children by lead isotope analysis: a cross-sectional study

Publié le 23 Septembre 2011
Mis à jour le 5 juillet 2019

BACKGROUND: The amount of lead in the environment has decreased significantly in recent years, and so did exposure. However, there is no known safe exposure level and, therefore, the exposure of children to lead, although low, remains a major public health issue. With the lower levels of exposure, it is becoming more difficult to identify lead sources and new approaches may be required for preventive action. This study assessed the usefulness of lead isotope ratios for identifying sources of lead using data from a nationwide sample of French children aged from six months to six years with blood lead levels e25 Œg/L. METHODS: Blood samples were taken from 125 children, representing about 600,000 French children; environmental samples were taken from their homes and personal information was collected. Lead isotope ratios were determined using quadrupole ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry) and the isotopic signatures of potential sources of exposure were matched with those of blood in order to identify the most likely sources. RESULTS: In addition to the interpretation of lead concentrations, lead isotope ratios were potentially of use for 57% of children aged from six months to six years with blood lead level e 25 Œg/L (7% of overall children in France, about 332,000 children), with at least one potential source of lead and sufficiently well discriminated lead isotope ratios. Lead isotope ratios revealed a single suspected source of exposure for 32% of the subjects and were able to eliminate at least one unlikely source of exposure for 30% of the children. CONCLUSIONS: In France, lead isotope ratios could provide valuable additional information in about a third of routine environmental investigations. (R.A.)

Auteur : Oulhote Y, Le Bot B, Poupon J, Lucas JP, Mandin C, Etchevers A, Zmirou Navier D, Glorennec P
Environmental health, 2011, vol. 10, p. 75