Source of lead in humans from Broken Hill mining community

Brian L. Gulson*, Donald Howarthl, Karen J. Mizon, Alistair J. Law, Michael J. Korsch, Jeffrey J. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper documents the first precise lead isotope measurements for men, women and children from the same family in an attempt to determine the source of lead in their blood. The subjects reside in one of the world's largest lead mining cities, Broken Hill, NSW, Australia. Biological and environmental samples have been compared using isotopic compositions and lead contents. Adult males have isotopic profiles (or compositions) which appear to be related to their occupations. Adult females have low blood leads (<10 μg dL-1) and their main source of lead is not from the mine dumps around which the city is built but probably from a mixture of petrol, food and perhaps water. The blood lead contents in children from 1 to 14 years old vary and are partly dependent on age. There is a moderate correlation of blood lead and isotopic compositions (r = 0.73) indicating that a significant component of blood lead derives from the mine dumps in children with elevated blood leads. Some children with blood leads <20 μg dL-1, however, also have a dominant component of mine lead in their blood

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-25
    Number of pages7
    JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 1994


    • Blood lead level
    • isotope measurement
    • lead mining community


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