Evaluation of a Second-Generation Portable Blood Lead Analyzer in an Occupational Setting

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BackgroundA new blood lead testing instrument has qualities that make the instrument attractive for on-site testing of occupational lead exposures. This study evaluated the accuracy of the instrument when used in a manufacturing setting, and examined the impact of blood storage and shipment on results.MethodsVenous blood specimens (n=121) were obtained and immediately analyzed on-site using the new instrument. They were then shipped to a reference laboratory and analyzed using electro-thermal atomization atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS), and retested using the new instrument.ResultsThe cohort blood lead concentration averaged 40.1 μg/dl. Results obtained on the new analyzer with freshly collected blood averaged 38.7 μg/dl. The mean difference of 1.2 μg/dl on paired samples was not statistically significant. Following blood shipment and storage, results on the analyzer increased to an average of 42.4 μg/dl. The mean increase of 3.0 μg/dl on stored blood samples also failed to reach statistical significance. Under OSHA proficiency test acceptability requirements, 94% of the results had satisfactory agreement.ConclusionsThe new analyzer might be a useful tool for on-site monitoring of occupational lead exposures. The manufacturer's instructions should be adhered to with respect to specimen age and storage requirements.

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