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Am J Ind Med. 2002 Aug;42(2):98-106.

Association between bone lead concentration and blood pressure among young adults.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.



Occupational and environmental exposure to lead has been examined for its effect on blood pressure (BP) in adults with varying results. The present analyses assessed the association between bone lead concentration and BP in early adult life in persons exposed during childhood.


Study participants included young adult members of two cohorts with different past histories of lead exposure. Lead exposure was assessed using noninvasive K-X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to quantify bone lead concentration, an index of long-term lead exposure superior to current blood lead concentration. Systolic and diastolic BP measurements were obtained using conventional clinical methods. Multiple linear regression models were constructed to allow for control of covariates of BP identified a priori.


Analyses were performed on 508 participants. While controlling for potential confounders, systolic BP was 4.3 mm Hg greater among members of the highest of four bone lead concentration groups (> 10 microg Pb/g bone) when compared with the lowest bone lead concentration group (< 1 microg Pb/g bone; P = 0.004), and diastolic BP was 2.8 mm Hg greater among members of the highest bone lead concentration group when compared with the lowest bone lead concentration group (P = 0.03).


These results suggest that substantial lead exposure during childhood can increase BP during young adulthood.

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