Two groups of schoolchildren between seven and 12 years old residing in the vicinity of a non-ferrous industrial plant and exposed to lead (Pb) at a concentration that could cause health problems, were monitored. Concentrations of Pb in blood (blood-Pb), which were determined at regular six monthly intervals, were related to the Pb concentrations in surface tooth enamel (enamel-Pb). Acid etch biopsy samples of surface enamel were taken at the end of the five year study period in the first group (A) and after two years in the second group (B). Salivary Pb (saliva-Pb) concentrations were determined for the first study group on the same day that the enamel biopsies were performed. Calibration of the data was necessary--that is, blood-Pb concentration with respect to age and sex and enamel-Pb concentration with respect to etch depth and age. The blood-Pb concentrations declined with time. Surface enamel Pb concentrations correlated with blood-Pb concentration for the period starting with the pre-eruptive development of the incisors, related to blood-Pb concentration for a long time, and corresponded partly to the exposure at the time of pre-eruptive development and/or eruption. Through the correlation with enamel-Pb concentration, the seasonal behaviour of blood-Pb concentration became apparent. Saliva-Pb concentrations related to blood-Pb concentrations only in the short term.
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