Toxicity of environmental lead and the influence of intestinal absorption in children

Linda M Heath, Kathleen L Soole, Michael L McLaughlin, Gordon T A McEwan, John W Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure to metals, particularly lead, remains a widespread issue that is associated with historical and current industrial practices. Whereas the toxic properties of metals are well described, exposure to metals per se is only one of many factors contributing to elevated blood metal concentrations and their consequent health effects in humans. The absorbed dose of metal is affected by geochemical, biochemical, and physiological parameters that influence the rate and extent of absorption. In children, the interplay among these factors can be of critical importance, especially when biochemical and physiological processes might not have matured to their normal adult status. Such immaturity represents an elevated risk to metal-exposed children because they might be more susceptible to enhanced absorption, especially via the oral route. This review brings together the more recent findings on the physiological mechanisms of metal absorption, especially lead, and examines several models that can be useful in assessing the potential for metal uptake in children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-50
Number of pages20
JournalReviews on environmental health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Biological Availability
  • Biological Transport
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Lead
  • Lead Poisoning
  • Tissue Distribution


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