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August 1988, Volume 38, Issue 8

Short Reports

HUMAN ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL: LEAD LEVELS IN BLOOD

Khalilur Rehman  ( Human Environment Cell, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. )
Muhammad Yaqub  ( Human Environment Cell, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. )
A. N. Sheri  ( Human Environment Cell, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. )

Clean atmosphere is a basic need for proper health. Persons living along roads having heavy traffic are affected by smoke emitting from various types of vehicles. Lead compounds (lead tetra alkyls) used in petrol as anti knocking agents are oxidised in internal combustion engines and produce toxic fumes.1 These toxic compoundsare inhaled and consumed as a result of fall out from the vehicle exhausts on nearby fruit croPs.2 Elevation of blood lead levels beyond the safe limits results in inactivation of sulphur containing enzymes and neurological abnormalities. This study reports blood lead levels in subjects in clean and congested areas of the city and suburbs.

SUBJECrS, METHODS AND RESULTS

Blood samples were collected from persons living or working in clean (10) or in light (16) medium (17) or heavy (17) traffic areas. Age, marital status and duration of stay in the area were recorded.
Five milliliters of heparinised blood from each individual was centrifuged at 3000 ppm for 5 minutes and plasma was stored in clean plastic bottles at — 20°C. In a 25 ml conical flask 1 ml of plasma was digested with 5 ml nitric acid for 30 minutes. Then 8 ml of nitric acid and perch­lorie acid mixture (1: 1) was added and heated at 300°C for 60 minutes till approximately 2 ml of clear fluid was obtained. The digested plasma was transferred to a 5 ml volumetric flask. The other flask was rinsed with water to wash remain­ing plasma. The final volume was made to 5 ml with water. VARIAN 1475 ABD atomic absorp­tion spectrophotometer was used for the esti­mation of lead.


The table shows the plasma lead levels in people living in clean and polluted areas. Plasma lead levels varied from 0.14 - 0.4 ppm in persons living in clean areas. All individuals living in light traffic areas had lead levels below and only 6% from medium traffic area above 0.8 ppm. None of the latter group had levels more than 1.2 ppm. Lead levels of those living in heavily polluted areas varied from 0.64 - 1.6 ppm and only 35% had levels above 1.2 ppm.

COMMENTS

Lead levels in the atmosphere are compara­tively higher in urban areas under the peak traffic conditions than in the rural areas3 - Preliminary observations reported in this study indicate alarming atmospheric pollution. It is therefore necessary to formulate a strategy for prevention of atmospheric pollution and determination of lead levels in blood donors, people working in indus­tries using lead compounds, and the fish ponds, crops and water channels in heavy traffic areas.

REFERENCES

1. Anonymous Evaluation of certain food additives and the contaminate Hg. Pb and Cd. WHO Tech. Rep. Ser., 1972; 16:225 (16-20), 16 :
2. Donald, B. Accidental ingestion is a major cause of high lead blood levels. Asian Med. News, 1986; 3 : 18.
3. Ludwing, J.H., Diggs, D.R., Hesselberg, H.E. and Maga, J.A. The levels of lead under peak traffic conditions. Am. md. Hyg. Assve. J,, 1985; 26: 270.

Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association has agreed to receive and publish manuscripts in accordance with the principles of the following committees: