Internal lead and cadmium exposure in 6-year-old children from western and eastern Germany

  • J. Begerow
  • I. Freier
  • M. Turfeld
  • U. Krämer
  • L. Dunemann
Original Article


Lead and cadmium levels in blood and deciduous teeth (shed incisors only) of 6-year-old German children were determined in 1991 in a large epidemiological study carried out in rural and urban areas of western Germany (Duisburg, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Dortmund, Borken) and eastern Germany (Leipzig, Halle, Magdeburg, Osterburg, Gardelegen, Salzwedel). In total, blood lead and cadmium levels of 2311 German children and tooth lead and cadmium levels of 790 German children were analyzed. Blood lead levels were generally low in all study areas with geometric means between 39.3 μg/1 and 50.8 μg/l in the western German and between 42.3 μg/1 and 68.1 μg/l in the eastern German study areas. The mean blood lead level of Turkish children (n = 213) living in the western German study areas was 50.1 μg/l and thus 5.6 μg/1 higher than the overall geometric mean of the western German children. The higher exposure may be explained by a higher oral uptake from food and different living conditions. These children were excluded from multiple regression analysis because they were all living in the western study areas. The mean tooth lead levels ranged between 1.50 and 1.74 μg/g in the western and between 1.51 μg/g and 2.72 μg/g in the eastern study areas. Thus, they show a distribution pattern similar to blood. Blood and tooth lead levels were higher in urban than in rural areas and higher in the eastern German than in the western German study areas. With regard to the blood and tooth cadmium concentrations, no significant differences between the study areas could be found. The mean cadmium levels in blood ranged between 0.12 μg/1 and 0.14 μg/l and the mean tooth cadmium concentrations between 20.8 ng/g and 27.8 ng/g. Blood and tooth lead and cadmium levels of the eastern and western German children were thus mainly at a relatively low level in all rural and urban study areas. The study demonstrates and confirms that blood and tooth lead levels are influenced by several demographic, social, and environmental variables. The results indicate that there has been a further significant decrease of lead and cadmium exposure in western German children since our last epidemiological study carried out in the same study areas in 1985/1986.

Key words

Lead Cadmium Blood Teeth Children 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Begerow
    • 1
  • I. Freier
    • 1
  • M. Turfeld
    • 1
  • U. Krämer
    • 1
  • L. Dunemann
    • 1
  1. 1.Medizinisches Institut für Umwelthygiene an der Heinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany

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