Relationship of blood lead levels to blood pressure in battery workers

Uzi Navah, Paul Froom*, Estela Kristal-Boneh, Bernard Moschovitch, Joseph Ribak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of lead exposure on blood pressure in the modern industrial setting is controversial. In this study, we followed 67 workers in a lead-battery plant for 6–10 y, and blood pressure and blood lead levels were measured every 6 mo. Weight, height, alcohol intake, cigarette smoking, and age were recorded. Partial correlation coefficients showed that initial systolic blood pressure, age, and body mass index (i.e., weight/height squared) accounted for 25%, 30.9%, and 20.2%, respectively, of the variance in systolic blood pressure (p <.001 in all cases). Conversely, average blood lead levels (13 ± 3 tests/worker) accounted for only 0.4% of the variance (not significant). Repeated-measures analysis of variance showed a small—but significant—association between blood lead levels and systolic blood pressure. There was a negative correlation between blood lead levels and diastolic blood pressure. There were 18 men with average blood lead levels that were less than 30 μg/dl (average = 25 ± 3 μg/dl), and 32 men had levels of 40 μg/dl or more (average = 47 ± 6 μg/dl). The mean final systolic blood pressure, adjusted for age, and initial systolic blood pressure were 117 ± 13 mm Hg and 114 ± 11 mm Hg, respectively. We concluded that blood lead levels had no clinically significant effect on blood pressure in lead-battery workers. The main predictors of the follow-up systolic blood pressure were age, body mass index, and initial systolic blood-pressure measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-328
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Environmental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1996


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