Blood lead levels following consumption of game meat in Italy

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to measure lead (Pb) levels in blood (Pb-blood) in consumers of game meat, taking into account other possible sources of lead exposure. A spot blood sample was obtained from 95 subjects, and a questionnaire was used to collect general information and data on game meat consumption, hunting, wine drinking and other possible sources of lead exposure. Pb-blood was measured by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Pb-blood was not influenced by age, sex, residence in an urban or rural area, consumption of game meat, tobacco smoking or hobbies associated with potential exposure to lead, and median Pb-blood was 1.7 (5th–95th percentile 1.0–5.3) μg/dL and 3.4 (0.9–6.1) μg/dL for game meat non-eaters and eater, respectively. A multiple linear regression analysis (containing the covariates sex, age, hunting, wine drinking, game meat consumption, tobacco smoking, shooting range, and occupational exposure) found an association with hunting (Pb-blood almost double in hunters) and wine drinking (40% higher in drinkers) but not with consumption of game meat or other parameters. Whether the higher Pb-blood level was due to inhalation of lead fumes while shooting with lead ammunition, to handling lead ammunition or both could not be ascertained.

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