Gender differences in blood lead and hemoglobin levels in Andean adults with chronic lead exposure

S. Allen Counter, Leo H. Buchanan, Fernando Ortega

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19 Scopus citations


A field study of the prevalence of lead (Pb) intoxication was conducted in 158 adults (67 men and 91 women) living at 2,500-2,800 meters in Ecuadorian Andean villages with high Pb contamination from local small-scale Pb-glazing cottage industries. Venous blood samples showed mean blood lead (PbB) levels of 34.5 μg/dL (SD 22.2) for men and 27.0 μg/dL (SD 18.4) for women; this difference was significant (t-test, p = 0.022; Mann-Whitney U, p = 0.044). An ANOVA showed no significant main effect for gender (F = 0.118, p = 0.782) or age (F = 2.479, p = 0.117), and no significant gender-by-age interaction (F = 0.273, p = 0.602). In the Pb-glazing study group, 39% of the men had PbB levels ≥ 40 μg/dL, while 41 % of the women had PbB levels ≥ 30 μg/dL (the WHO health-based biological limits). A reference group of 39 adults (24 men and 15 women) had a mean PbB level of 5.9 μg/dL (SD 2.8; range: 1.8-16.8), significantly different from that of the 158 subjects in the study group (t-test, p < 0.0001). The difference in mean PbB levels of men (6.8 μg/dL) and women (4.7 μg/dL) in the reference group was significant (t-test, p = 0.026; Mann-Whitney U, p = 0.019). The mean altitude-corrected hemoglobin levels in the study group were lower than normal, 11.3 g/dL for men and 10.9 g/dL for women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-118
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Andes.
  • Blood
  • Gender
  • Hemoglobin
  • Lead


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