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Saliva as a matrix for biomonitoring of occupational and environmental exposure to lead

Jackie Morton / Elizabeth Leese / Anne-Helen Harding / Kate Jones / Ovnair Sepai
  • Corresponding author
  • Public Health England, Centre for Radiation Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Didcot, OX11 0RQ
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2014-10-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/bimo-2014-0008


Background: To evaluate whether salivary lead can be used as a surrogate for blood lead, and if so, over what concentration range.

Methodology: Three saliva devices were evaluated and one chosen to undertake this project. Paired saliva and blood samples were collected from 89 UK lead workers. Lead concentrations were determined using ICP-MS. In addition, haemoglobin and ZPP levels were determined in the blood samples and albumin was determined in the saliva samples to investigate standardisation using protein adjustments.

Results: The chosen saliva device gave low but consistent recoveries for lead in saliva and the blank levels were low. The mean +/- SD blood lead level was 19.9 +/- 14 μg/dl; the mean +/- SD saliva lead level was 19.1 +/- 32.5 μg/l for 89 workers. Log10-transformed data showed correlation of r=0.69. The protein adjustments did not improve the blood-saliva correlation.

Conclusions: This study has demonstrated that salivary lead measurement is feasible and correlated with blood lead levels, at least at occupational exposure levels, and may have value as a screening technique. Correlation may improve at environmental levels where exposures are generally more consistent and chronic, although this needs to be demonstrated in a genuine environmental population.

Keywords : Lead; saliva; blood; workers; icp-ms


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About the article

Received: 2014-06-19

Accepted: 2014-09-11

Published Online: 2014-10-03

Citation Information: Biomonitoring, Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-4606, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/bimo-2014-0008.

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© 2014 Jackie Morton et al.. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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