Lead - blood

Last updated: Thursday, 22, April, 2004

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Item Process

5 mL blood in EDTA or lithium heparin tube. Consult laboratory.


Atomic absorption spectrophotometry.

Reference Interval

Female: 0.35 µmol/L

Male: <0.5 µmol/L


Lead poisoning, population screening and occupational lead exposure.


Levels >0.5 µmol/L indicate increased exposure to lead and may be associated with intellectual impairment in children.

Levels >2 µmol/L are likely in patients with symptoms of acute lead toxicity.

Occupational exposure is usually regulated (check with local authorities).

Blood lead may be the only abnormal parameter in acute organic lead poisoning (eg, petrol sniffing).


Lockitch G. Clin Biochem 1993; 26: 371-381.

Hu H. Prim Care 2000; 27(4): 983-996.