JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Toxicokinetics of bone lead.

This article discusses bone as a source of lead to the rest of the body and as a record of past lead exposure. Bone lead levels generally increase with age at rates dependent on the skeletal site and lead exposure. After occupational exposure, the slow decline in blood lead, a 5- to 19-year half-life, reflects the long skeletal half-life. Repeated measurements of bone lead demonstrate the slow elimination of lead from bone. Stable isotope ratios have revealed many details of skeletal uptake and subsequent release. The bulk turnover rates for compact bone are about 2% per year and 8% for spine. Turnover activity varies with age and health. Even though lead approximates calcium, radium, strontium, barium, fluorine, and other bone seekers, the rates for each are different. A simple, two-pool (bone and blood) kinetic model is presented with proposed numerical values for the changes in blood lead levels that occur with changes in turnover rates. Two approaches are offered to further quantify lead turnover. One involves a study of subjects with known past exposure. Changes in the ratio of blood lead to bone lead with time would reflect the course of bone lead availability. Also, stable isotopes and subjects who move from one geographical area to another offer opportunities. Sequential isotope measurements would indicate how much of the lead in blood is from current exposure or bone stores, distinct from changes in absorption or excretion.

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