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Leaded gasoline predominant source of lead exposure in latter 20th century
Date:6/15/2010

ata curves created with the tooth, blood, sediment and usage data. The impact of the new statistical technique motivated by this study, goes beyond this lead application; it has a general application to simultaneous comparison of curves needed in other biomedical data applications.

The data shows leaded gasoline was the primary cause of exposure, with lead levels in teeth comparatively low in 1936 and increasing dramatically, mirroring the usage of leaded gas and atmospheric lead levels, which tripled from the 1930s to the mid 1960's. The time dependency of the lead isotope ratios in tooth enamel, measured in Ketterer's laboratory, also closely matched that of atmospheric deposition from gasoline.

If the main source of lead in teeth had been lead from paint and food can solder that were commonly used at the turn of the last century up through the 1960s, the data would have shown consistently high levels of lead in teeth already in the 1930s and a modest rise as lead was introduced into gasoline from that decade up until usage peaked in the mid 1960s.

Traffic data kept by the Ohio Department of Transportation reinforced the finding. The researchers found that children in neighborhood clusters with the highest number of cars on their roads also had the highest levels of lead in their teeth.

Cleveland is hardly unique in the nation's history of lead usage and exposure, Robbins said. "What we found here we expect to be similar to urban areas in the rest of the country."


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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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