Absence of peripheral neuropathy in long-term lead-exposed subjects

Acta Neurol Scand. 1982 Apr;65(4):241-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.1982.tb03083.x.


The safety of a blood lead concentration of 70 microgram/100 ml as a hygienic border value with regard to development of lead neuropathy was tested in 95 employees, who had been exposed occupationally to lead for more than 9 years. The blood lead concentration was slightly above the border value in nine subjects, while the erythrocyte-Zn-protoporphyrin concentration was significantly elevated in 81 subjects, indicating an abnormal accumulation of metabolically active lead. None of the group showed clinical evidence of peripheral neuropathy, and the vibratory perception thresholds as well as motor conduction data from the median, radial, and common peroneal nerves were normal, as compared with an age-matched control group of 21 non-exposed normal subjects. The amplitude ratio between proximally and distally evoked muscle action potentials was normal in all lead-exposed subjects. These findings suggest that lead-exposed subjects are well protected against peripheral lead neuropathy, when blood lead levels are kept below the hygienic border value.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Erythrocytes / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Perception / drug effects
  • Peripheral Nerves / drug effects*
  • Protoporphyrins / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Vibration


  • Protoporphyrins
  • zinc protoporphyrin
  • Lead