Greater contribution to blood lead from water than from air.
Elwood PC., Gallacher JE., Phillips KM., Davies BE., Toothill C.
Concern about the levels of lead in blood is widespread. There is uncertainty, however, about the relative importance of the various environmental sources. Lead in petrol is widely assumed to be one of the most important sources and air and dust have been identified as the main routes to man. Water is regarded as an important source in areas with a plumbosolvent water supply, but of little or no importance in other areas. In order to evaluate the contribution to blood lead by various environmental sources, we have conducted surveys of random samples of women in areas of Wales chosen to represent very different levels of exposure to traffic. We report here that lead in air makes a small, but significant, contribution to blood lead but there is no evidence of any contribution from dust. Although in none of the areas were high levels of lead detected in water, water emerges as an important contributor to blood lead.