Hair and blood as substrates for screening children for lead poisoning

Arch Environ Health. 1999 Nov-Dec;54(6):436-40. doi: 10.1080/00039899909603376.


In Russia, hair, rather than blood, is usually used as a substrate for screening children for lead poisoning. We attempted to gauge the accuracy of this method by comparing these two methods. The evaluation was done in Saratov, Russia. We collected hair and blood samples from 189 children who attended 11 kindergartens. Their mean blood lead concentration was 9.8 microg/dl (range = 3.1-35.7 microg/dl), and their mean hair lead concentration was 7.2 microg/g (range = 1.0-7.2 microg/g [i.e., 1.0 being the lowest detectable limit]). Hair lead concentration as a screening method had 57% sensitivity and resulted in 18% of the children being classified as false-negatives. We conclude, therefore, that measuring hair lead concentration is not an adequate method with which to screen children for lead poisoning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead Poisoning / diagnosis*
  • Lead Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Lead