Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 898–907 | Cite as

Influence of abatement of lead exposure in Croatia on blood lead and ALAD activity

  • Kljaković-Gašpić ZoranaEmail author
  • Pizent Alica
  • Jurasović Jasna
Research Article


We evaluated the effect of lead (Pb) abatement measures in Croatia on blood lead (BPb) concentrations, and delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) activity in blood, as a sensitive indicator of early Pb effect. Data on BPb and ALAD activity were obtained from 829 Croatian men (19–64 years of age), with no known occupational exposure to metals. Data obtained in 2008–2009, after the ban of leaded gasoline in Croatia in 2006, were compared with similar data collected in 1981 and 1989, when the concentration of Pb in gasoline was 0.6 g/L. Our results showed a highly significant (p < 0.001) decrease in median BPb from 114.5 (range, 46.0–275.0) μg/L in 1981/1989 to 30.3 (range, 3.2–140.8) μg/L in 2008–2009 and an increase in median ALAD activity from 49.8 (range, 24.9–79.4) EU in 1981/1989 to 60.9 (range, 35.8–84.0) EU in 2008–2009. Individual factors influencing BPb values were, in the order of decreasing importance, Pb in ambient air (APb), alcohol consumption, age, and smoking. Increased ALAD activity was significantly associated with the decrease of APb, alcohol consumption, and smoking. These results show that lead abatement measures had a positive impact on both BPb concentrations (73.5 % decrease) and the activity of ALAD (22.1 % increase) in general population. Our results contribute to growing evidence that ALAD activity may be used as one of the earliest and sensitive diagnostic biomarkers of low-level Pb exposure.


Lead Blood Delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase Gasoline–lead Trend 



This research was supported by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia (Project No. 022-0222411-2408). We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Spomenka Telišman and the late Dr. Danica Prpić-Majić, our former mentors and supervisors, as this work is based on their long-standing research in the area of biological monitoring and health effects of lead in humans. We are also grateful to our former colleague J. Pongračić for her invaluable contribution in blood lead analysis.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical standard

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of institutional ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

11356_2015_5338_MOESM1_ESM.docx (62 kb)
ESM 1 Relationship between logarithmically transformed BPb concentrations of 829 male Zagreb citizens with changes in the maximum allowed concentration of lead in gasoline (GPb). The solid line is log10 BPb = 1.4429 + 0.7923 × GPb; r = 0.6432; p < 0.0001. The intercept at GPb = 0 yields a BPb value of 27.73 μg/L (DOCX 62 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kljaković-Gašpić Zorana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pizent Alica
    • 1
  • Jurasović Jasna
    • 1
  1. 1.Analytical Toxicology and Mineral Metabolism UnitInstitute for Medical Research and Occupational HealthZagrebCroatia

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