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Am J Ind Med. 1987;12(4):385-98.

Monitoring of zinc protoporphyrin levels in blood following occupational lead exposure.

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  • 1Institute of Hygiene, University of Lund, Sweden.


The value of measurements of zinc protoporphyrin in blood (ZPP) in the surveillance of workers occupationally exposed to lead has been studied. From a group of referents, consisting of 1,088 men and 511 women, it has been established that the normal mean ZPP is in the region of 25 micrograms/100 ml, and only rarely do values exceed 45 micrograms/100 ml. The higher ZPP values are frequently associated with low blood hemoglobin concentrations and appear to be manifestations of an iron-deficiency anemia. Women have higher ZPP values than men; smoking has no influence. Measurements of ZPP and blood lead concentration (PbB) have been made every other month for 2.5 years on a group of around 200 men and 40 women exposed to lead in a storage battery factory. The mean ZPP of the group throughout the period was 70.9 micrograms/100 ml blood, and a linear relation between log ZPP and PbB in the PbB range of 10-80 micrograms/100 ml has been established. ZPP thresholds in the control of excessive occupational lead exposure, and the economic advantage of ZPP measurements over PbB, are discussed.

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