German Environment Agency (UBA), Berlin, GermanyGerman Environment Agency (UBA), Berlin, GermanyFraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT), Sulzbach, GermanyGerman Environment Agency (UBA), Berlin, GermanyFraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT), Sulzbach, Germanylnstitute and Outpatient Clinic of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat, Erlangen, GermanyFraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT), Sulzbach, GermanyGerman Environment Agency (UBA), Berlin, Germany
T. Weber;M. Ruther;H. von Briesen;M. Kolossa-Gehring;D. Lermen;T. Goeen;M. Bartel-Steinbach;A. Conrad
Background Lead is used since ancient times by mankind in various ways. Its extensive use and emission also of its compounds resulted in considerable exposure of the environment and the human population. Due to its known toxic potential lead exposure has been routinely monitored by the German ESB since 1981. Methods Blood samples from 10,257 participants of the German ESB from 1981 to 2015 were analyzed for this study. From a subgroup of participants covering the years 2010 to 2015 data on sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, and housing situation were investigated on their impact on lead exposure in young adults. Results Blood lead levels (BLL) of young adults decreased from 1981 to 2015 about 85.5 % as demonstrated by geometric mean values from the sampling site Muenster. A similar time trend is found for all four sampling sites from 1997 to 2015. Since 2008 a decreasing trend is not observed anymore. In general male participants have higher BLLs than females. Both, male and female smoker have significantly higher BLLs than non-smoker. Alcohol consumption significantly increased BLLs. An association with housing situation on BLLs is only revealed for male participants. Discussion The results reflect regulation measures undertaken to decrease human exposure to lead which started in Germany in 1971 with the regulation of leaded gasoline. The observed associations with sex, alcohol and tobacco consumption are in line with data from comparable studies. A decrease of 85.5% from 1981 to 2015 is remarkable but still it is not known if the currently observed lower BLLs can be considered as harmless. Further monitoring activities also for the most vulnerable groups - new-borns and children - are warranted in order to evaluate currents risks of lead exposure in Germany. Acknowledgement The ESB is funded by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).