To investigate the effects of calcium disodium ethylenediamine tetra-acetate (CaEDTA) on the urinary excretion, erythrocyte, and plasma concentrations and exposure indicators of seven heavy metals, CaEDTA was administered by intravenous infusion to 20 workers exposed to lead, zinc, and copper. The workers' blood lead concentrations ranged from 22 to 59 micrograms/dl (mean 38 micrograms/dl (1.8 mumol/l]. The 24 hour urinary excretion of metals after CaEDTA administration (mobilisation yield) was on average 13 times the background excretion for lead, 11 times for zinc, 3.8 times for manganese, 3.4 times for cadmium, 1.3 times for copper, and 1.1 times for chromium; no significant increase was found for mercury. The mobilisation yield of lead (MPb) was significantly correlated with whole blood and erythrocyte concentrations and the urinary excretion of lead but not with its plasma concentration; similarly, the mobilisation yield of cadmium was significantly correlated with its erythrocyte concentration. In addition, MPb was significantly correlated with intra-erythrocytic enzyme delta-aminolaevulinic acid dehydratase activity and urinary coproporphyrin excretion. The relation between the mobilisation yield of heavy metals and their body burden (and toxic signs) is discussed in the light of these findings.
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