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Behaviour of indicators of exposure and effect after cessation of occupational exposure to lead.
  1. L Alessio,
  2. M R Castoldi,
  3. P Odone,
  4. I Franchini


    The behaviour of blood lead (PbB) and of some indicators of effect (erythrocyte protoporphyrin IX (EP), delta-aminolaevulinic acid dehydratase activity of erythrocytes (ALAD), and urinary delta-aminolaevulinic acid (ALAU)) were studied in subjects who had ceased working with inorganic lead for at least one year. Relations between these indices and chelatable lead (PbU-EDTA (lead in urine after injection of CaNa2 EDTA 1 g intravenously)), a test that is used to evaluate the lead deposits in the body, were also analysed. As a comparison, a group of subjects currently exposed was studied. In the workers with past exposure the PbB values were significantly lower, at the same PbU-EDTA levels, than those found in subjects at work. The relation between EP and PbU-EDTA shows that, corresponding levels of chelatable lead, the values of the erythrocyte metabolite are identical in the two groups. Considering the EP-PbB relation, however, at the same PbB levels the protoporphyrin values appear distinctly more altered in the subjects with past exposure. Similar results were obtained from a study of the relations between ALAD and PbU-EDTA and between ALAD and PbB. The relation between ALAU and PbU-EDTA, however, shows that, at the same PbU-EDTA levels the urinary metabolic in past-exposed subjects is distinctly lower than in subjects at work, while the relation between ALAU and PbB shows that, for similar blood lead values, the ALAU levels are identical. On the basis of the results obtained it is concluded that in subjects with past exposure, EP and ALAD can be used in establishing the persistence and extent of an "active deposit" of lead in the organism, while PbB is of very limited use.

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