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Am J Public Health. 2008 Jul;98(7):1248-55. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.118505. Epub 2008 May 29.

Gender and race/ethnicity differences in lead dose biomarkers.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe St, Room W7041, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



We sought to identify predictors of lead concentrations in the blood, tibias, and patellae of older adults and to describe differences by gender, race/ethnicity, and other factors that can influence lead toxicokinetics and, thus modify health effects.


Participants aged 50 to 70 years (N=1140) were randomly identified from selected neighborhoods in Baltimore, Maryland. We measured lead concentrations by anodic stripping voltammetry (in blood) and (109)Cd-induced K-shell x-ray fluorescence (in bone). We used multiple linear regression to identify predictors of lead concentrations.


Mean (SD) lead concentrations in blood, tibias, and patellae were 3.5 (2.4) mug/dL, 18.9 (12.5) mug/g, and 6.8 (18.1) mug/g, respectively. Tibia concentrations were 29% higher in African Americans than in Whites (P < .01). We observed effect modification by race/ethnicity on the association of gender and physical activity to blood lead concentrations and by gender on the association of age to tibia lead concentrations. Patella lead concentrations differed by gender; apolipoprotein E genotype modified this relation.


African Americans evidenced a prominent disparity in lifetime lead dose. Women may be at higher risk of release of lead from bone and consequent health effects because of increased bone demineralization with aging.

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