Tracking blood lead and zinc protoporphyrin levels in Andean adults working in a lead contaminated environment

UMMS Affiliation

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center; Department of Pediatrics; Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Cohort Studies; Female; Humans; Lead; Lead Poisoning; Male; Middle Aged; Occupational Exposure; Protoporphyrins; South America; Young Adult


Environmental Public Health | Medical Toxicology


The purpose of this study was to investigate current blood lead (PbB) and zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) levels in adults presently living in environmentally Pb-contaminated Andean communities, and to compare the findings with the PbB and ZPP levels of Pb-exposed adult cohorts from the same study area tested between 1996 and 2007. Blood samples from 39 adults were measured for PbB and ZPP concentrations. The current mean PbB level (22.7 mug/dl) was significantly lower than the mean (37.9 mug/dl) of the initial 1996 cohort. PbB levels for the 1997, 1998, 2003, and 2006 cohorts were also significantly lower than the levels for the 1996 group. Elevated ZPP/heme ratios of 103.3, 128.4, and 134.2 mumol/mol were not significantly different for the 2006, 2007, and 2012 groups, indicating chronic Pb exposure. While ZPP levels of Andean Ecuadorian Pb-glazing workers have remained elevated, PbB levels declined. Lead exposure of the workers needs to be continually monitored.

DOI of Published Version



Ortega F, Counter SA, Buchanan LH, Parra AM, Collaguaso MA, Jacobs AB. Tracking blood lead and zinc protoporphyrin levels in Andean adults working in a lead contaminated environment. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013;76(19):1111-20. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2013.840708. PubMed PMID: 24274152; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4144186. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID