Longitudinal changes in bone lead concentration: implications for modelling of human bone lead metabolism
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In this study, 539 occupationally exposed subjects received in vivo bone lead measurements using 109Cd excited K X-ray fluorescence (109Cd K XRF). Of these subjects, 327 had previously been measured five years earlier. Measurements were made from both tibia and calcaneus samples, taken to reflect cortical and trabecular bone, respectively. Changes in tibia lead concentration related negatively to initial tibia lead concentration and positively to both lead exposure between the measurement dates and initial calcaneus lead concentration. This finding confirmed and strengthened the interpretation of an earlier study involving fewer subjects. With the larger data set it was possible to examine subgroups of subjects. This showed that people aged less than 40 years had a shorter half-life for the release of lead from the tibia (4.9, 95% CI 3.6-7.8 years) than did those older than 40 (13.8, 95% CI 9.7-23.8 years). Similarly, less intensely exposed subjects (lifetime average blood lead < or = 25 micrograms dL-1) had a shorter tibia lead half-life (6.2, 95% CI 4.7-9.0 years) than those with a lifetime average blood lead > 25 micrograms dL-1 (14.7, 95% CI 9.7-29.9 years). Age and measures of lead exposure were strongly correlated; nevertheless, age matched subgroups with high and low intensity exposures showed clearance rates that were significantly different at the 10% level, with the lower exposure intensity again being associated with the faster clearance. These findings imply that current models of human lead metabolism should be examined with a view to adjusting them to account for kinetic rates varying with age and probably also with exposure level.
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