Iron depletion and blood lead levels in a population with endemic lead poisoning

C. Hershko, A. M. Konijn, J. Moreb, G. Link, F. Grauer, E. Weissenberg

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The effect of iron depletion on blood lead levels was studied in a group of 558 schoolchildren aged 10 to 18 residing in two West Bank Arab villages with a high prevalence of excessive lead exposure and clinical lead poisoning. Thirty percent of the subjects studied had whole-blood lead levels > 30 μg/dl, and 45% had whole-blood zinc erythrocyte protoporphyrin > 50 μg/dl. The percentage of abnormal blood lead values in subjects with normal serum ferritin and transferrin saturation (31%) was similar to that in subjects with one (28%) or two (25%) abnormal iron parameters. Likewise, there was no correlation between serum ferritin and blood lead levels in individual patients (r = 0.059). Normal distribution plots and mean levels of blood lead (27.3 μg/dl) were identical in the iron-deficient and iron-replete groups. These findings indicate that iron depletion does not affect blood lead levels and suggest that in man, unlike in experimental animals, iron depletion may not have a significant effect on lead absorption.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1039-1043
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1984


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