Objectives: Low-lead level exposure has been associated with harmful health effects. Blood lead is the most widely used marker of exposure. In this work, our purpose was to evaluate the present level of blood lead in a group of 616 subjects from the general population living in two regions of France: Centre and Pays de Loire.
Methods: Subjects were randomly included in the study. Blood lead was measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry which is the most sensitive and specific method.
Results: The mean blood lead concentration of the population studied ranged from 46.7 +/- 20.5 micrograms/l in the 6-10 year old to 86.6 +/- 42.4 micrograms/l in the 50-66 year old subjects. From 385 children under 13 years old, 5 had blood lead higher than 100 micrograms/l, the maximum acceptable level recommended by the American Centers for Disease Control. Women had lower blood lead values than men and their levels remained unchanged until 50 years but increased beyond this age.
Conclusion: Mean lead levels were low in this French population. There is however risk of higher levels in persons living in old housing.