Ciência & Saúde Coletiva
Print version ISSN 1413-8123
BARBOSA JR, Fernando; TANUS-SANTOS, José Eduardo; GERLACH, Raquel Fernanda and PARSONS, Patrick J.. A critical review of biomarkers used for monitoring human exposure to lead: advantages, limitations and future needs. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2006, vol.11, n.1, pp. 229-241. ISSN 1413-8123. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-81232006000100032.
Lead concentration in whole blood (Blood-Pb) is the primary biomarker used to monitor exposure to this metallic element. However, the difficulty in assessing the exact nature of Pb exposure is dependent not so much on problems with current analytical methodologies, but rather on the complex toxicokinetics of Pb within various body compartments. If we are to differentiate more effectively between Pb that is stored in the body for years and Pb from recent exposure, information on other biomarkers of exposure may be needed. None of the current biomarkers of internal Pb dose has yet been accepted by the scientific community as a reliable substitute for a Blood-Pb measurement. This review focuses on the limitations of biomarkers of Pb exposure, and the need to improve the accuracy of their measurement. We present here only the traditional analytical protocols in current use and we attempt to assess the influence of confounding variables on Blood-Pb levels. Finally, we discuss the interpretation of Blood-Pb data with respect to both external and endogenous Pb exposure, past or recent exposure, as well as the significance of lead determinations in human specimens including hair, nails, saliva, bone, blood, urine, feces, and exfoliated teeth.
Keywords : Lead; Biomonitoring; Biomarkers of exposure.