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Lead, mercury, and cadmium in blood and their relation to diet among Swedish adults.

Journal article
Authors Helena Bjermo
Salomon Sand
Cecilia Nälsén
Thomas Lundh
Heléne Enghardt Barbieri
Monika Pearson
Anna-Karin Lindroos
Bo A G Jönsson
Lars Barregård
Per Ola Darnerud
Published in Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association
Volume 57
Pages 161-9
ISSN 1873-6351
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Pages 161-9
Language en
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


The aim of the present study was to examine the body burden of lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and cadmium (Cd) in blood among Swedish adults and the association between blood levels, diet and other lifestyle factors. The study was based on a subgroup (n=273) of the national survey Riksmaten 2010-2011 (4-day food records and questionnaire). Lead, Hg, and Cd were measured in whole blood, and Cd additionally in urine, by mass or fluorescence spectrometry methods. The median values (5-95th percentiles) of the metals in blood were as follows; Pb: 13.4 (5.8-28.6) μg/L, Hg: 1.13 (0.31-3.45) μg/L, and Cd: 0.19 (0.09-1.08) μg/L. All three metals increased with increasing age. Lead levels in blood were positively associated with intakes of game and alcohol, Hg was related to fish intake, and blood Cd related to smoking and low iron stores and to a low meat intake. Body burdens of the studied metals were generally below health based reference values, but several individuals had blood Pb levels above the reference point for possible nephrotoxic and developmental neurotoxic effects. As health effects cannot be excluded, individuals with high Pb exposure should aim at decreasing their body burden, both from food and from other exposure routes.

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