Lead exposure in battery-factory workers is not associated with anemia

Paul Froom, Estella Kristal-Boneh, Jochanan Benbassat, Ruth Ashkanazi, Joseph Ribak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anemia is a manifestation of lead toxicity. However, there are conflicting reports of its prevalence among lead-exposed workers, and it is uncertain whether they should be monitored by periodic hemoglobin (Hb) examinations. To explore the relationship between Hb and lead exposure, we examined the correlation between Hb, blood lead (PbB), and zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) levels in 961 blood samples obtained from 94 workers in a lead-acid battery plant in Israel between 1980 and 1993. Blood lead levels exceeded 60 μg/dL (2.90 μmol/L) in 105 (14%) of the blood samples. The correlation between PbB and logZPP was 0.594. Hb levels did not correlate with PbB or ZPP. We conclude that (a) periodic Hb determinations are not a useful indicator of lead exposure in Israeli industrial workers; (b) the discrepancies between the reported correlation between PbB and Hb levels remain unexplained and in need of further study; and (c) a finding of anemia in a person with PbB levels of up to 80 μg/dL should be considered to be due to lead toxicity only after other causes for anemia have been excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-123
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


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