The genotoxicity of lead

Mutat Res. 1993 Jan;285(1):117-24. doi: 10.1016/0027-5107(93)90059-o.


Lead has been tested for genotoxic potential in a range of mutagenicity assays. Such studies report varying effects, and the results are equivocal. The reasons for this may be related to problems of the solubility of many lead compounds, their inability to dissolve in biological fluids, chemical interferences resulting in conflicting observations, the nonspecificity of the assays used, the delivery of toxic doses to specific genetic processes or the mediation of genotoxicity through indirect mechanisms. Occupational and environmental exposures to lead have also been associated with increases in chromosomal damage in humans at moderate to high exposures, although this evidence is contradictory. Where positive findings have been reported, many are related to exposure. The possibility that lead is genotoxic is by no means clear, but evidence is still accumulating.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Lead / toxicity*
  • Lead Poisoning / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Occupational Exposure


  • Lead