Lead Exposure in Adult Males in Urban Transvaal Province, South Africa during the Apartheid Era.

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    • Abstract:
      Human exposure to lead is a substantial public health hazard worldwide and is particularly problematic in the Republic of South Africa given the country’s late cessation of leaded petrol. Lead exposure is associated with a number of serious health issues and diseases including developmental and cognitive deficiency, hypertension and heart disease. Understanding the distribution of lifetime lead burden within a given population is critical for reducing exposure rates. Femoral bone from 101 deceased adult males living in urban Transvaal Province (now Gauteng Province), South Africa between 1960 and 1998 were analyzed for lead concentration by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Of the 72 black and 29 white individuals sampled, chronic lead exposure was apparent in nearly all individuals. White males showed significantly higher median bone lead concentration (ME = 10.04 µg·g−1), than black males (ME = 3.80 µg·g−1) despite higher socioeconomic status. Bone lead concentration covaries significantly, though weakly, with individual age. There was no significant temporal trend in bone lead concentration. These results indicate that long-term low to moderate lead exposure is the historical norm among South African males. Unexpectedly, this research indicates that white males in the sample population were more highly exposed to lead. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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