Surface dust wipes are the best predictors of blood leads in young children with elevated blood lead levels

Brian Gulson*, Phil Anderson, Alan Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: As part of the only national survey of lead in Australian children, which was undertaken in 1996, lead isotopic and lead concentration measurements were obtained from children from 24 dwellings whose blood lead levels were ≥15 μg/dL in an attempt to determine the source(s) of their elevated blood lead. Comparisons were made with data for six children with lower blood lead levels (<10 μg/dL). Methods: Thermal ionisation and isotope dilution mass spectrometry were used to determine high precision lead isotopic ratios (208Pb/206Pb, 207Pb/206Pb and 206Pb/204Pb) and lead concentrations in blood, dust from floor wipes, soil, drinking water and paint (where available). Evaluation of associations between blood and the environmental samples was based on the analysis of individual cases, and Pearson correlations and multiple regression analyses based on the whole dataset. Results and discussion: The correlations showed an association for isotopic ratios in blood and wipes (r=0.52, 95% CI 0.19-0.74), blood and soil (r=0.33, 95% CI -0.05-0.62), and blood and paint (r=0.56, 95% CI 0.09-0.83). The regression analyses indicated that the only statistically significant relationship for blood isotopic ratios was with dust wipes (B=0.65, 95% CI 0.35-0.95); there were no significant associations for lead concentrations in blood and environmental samples. There is a strong isotopic correlation of soils and house dust (r=0.53, 95% CI 0.20-0.75) indicative of a common source(s) for lead in soil and house dust. In contrast, as with the regression analyses, no such association is present for bulk lead concentrations (r=-0.003, 95% CI -0.37-0.36), the most common approach employed in source investigations. In evaluation of the isotopic results on a case by case basis, the strongest associations were for dust wipes and blood.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-178
    Number of pages8
    JournalEnvironmental Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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