Impact of diet on lead in blood and urine in female adults and relevance to mobilization of lead from bone stores

Brian L. Gulson*, Kathryn R. Mahaffey, C. William Jameson, Nicole Patison, Alistair J. Law, Karen J. Mizon, Michael J. Korsch, David Pederson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    We measured high precision lead isotope ratios and lead concentrations in blood, urine, and environmental samples to assess the significance of diet as a contributing factor to blood and urine lead levels in a cohort of 23 migrant women and 5 Australian-born women. We evaluated possible correlations between levels of dietary lead intake and changes observed in blood and urine lead levels and isotopic composition during pregnancy and postpartum. Mean blood lead concentrations for both groups were approximately 3 μg/dl. The concentration of lead in the diet was 5.8 ± 3 μg Pb/kg [geometric mean (GM) 5.2] and mean daily dietary intake was 8.5 μg/kg/day (GM 7.4), with a range of 2-39 μg/kg/day. Analysis of 6-day duplicate dietary samples for individual subjects commonly showed major spikes in lead concentration and isotopic composition that were not reflected by associated changes in either blood lead concentration or isotopic composition. Changes in blood lead levels and isotopic composition observed during and after pregnancy could not be solely explained by dietary lead. These data are consistent with earlier conclusions that, in cases where levels of environmental lead exposure and dietary lead intake are low, skeletal contribution is the dominant contributor to blood lead, especially during pregnancy and postpartum.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)257-263
    Number of pages7
    JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999


    • adult females
    • bone
    • diet
    • lead isotopes
    • pregnancy


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