Lead reduction of petrol and blood lead concentrations of athletes

Arch Environ Health. Mar-Apr 1992;47(2):139-42. doi: 10.1080/00039896.1992.10118768.


In 1984, it was determined that the blood of long-distance runners in South Africa contained unacceptably high concentrations of lead. Subsequently, the petrol lead level in South Africa was reduced from 0.8 g/l to 0.4 g/l. In view of this reduction, a followup investigation of its effect on the blood lead concentration of South African runners was undertaken. Blood lead samples were analyzed by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The mean values of blood lead concentrations dropped from 52 to 13 micrograms/dl and from 20 to 8.5 micrograms/dl for the urban and rural trainers, respectively. A highly significant decrease in blood lead levels was found and was mainly attributable to the reduction in the petrol lead levels. The blood lead results for rural trainers indicated that there still exists a certain degree of lead pollution in athletes from nonremote areas.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Gasoline / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Lead / blood
  • Male
  • Running*
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Population


  • Gasoline
  • Lead