Longitudinal changes in bone lead levels: the VA Normative Aging Study

J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Aug;53(8):850-5. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822589a9.


Objective: Bone lead is a cumulative measure of lead exposure that can also be remobilized. We examined repeated measures of bone lead over 11 years to characterize long-term changes and identify predictors of tibia and patella lead stores in an elderly male population.

Methods: Lead was measured every 3 to 5 years by k-x-ray fluorescence and mixed-effect models with random effects were used to evaluate change over time.

Results: A total of 554 participants provided up to four bone lead measurements. Final models predicted a -1.4% annual decline (95% CI: -2.2 to -0.7) for tibia lead and piecewise linear model for patella with an initial decline of 5.1% per year (95% CI: -6.2 to -3.9) during the first 4.6 years but no significant change thereafter (-0.4% [95% CI: -2.4 to 1.7]).

Conclusions: These results suggest that bone lead half-life may be longer than previously reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patella / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, X-Ray Emission
  • Tibia / chemistry
  • Young Adult


  • Lead