Spatial distribution of lead in human primary teeth as a biomarker of pre- and neonatal lead exposure
Lead remains one of the most hazardous toxins in our environment. Because the toxic effects of lead are most prominent during early development, it is important to develop a suitable biomarker for lead exposure during the pre- and neonatal periods. In the present study, the spatial distribution of lead was measured in the enamel and dentine of ten human primary teeth using laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. The neonatal line, visualized using confocal laser scanning microscopy, was used to demarcate the pre- and postnatal regions of the sample teeth. Lead levels in pre- and postnatally formed enamel and dentine were compared to blood-lead levels measured at birth and one year of age for four of these participants. Mean dentine-lead levels ranged from 0.17 ± 0.02 to 5.60 ± 1.79 μg/g, and mean enamel-lead levels ranged from 0.04 ± 0.01 to 1.47 ± 0.20 μg/g. The results of this preliminary study showed that the spatial distribution of lead in dentine reflected the blood-lead levels. The present study demonstrates a methodology where the spatial distribution of lead in the dentine of human primary teeth may be used to obtain temporal information of environmental lead exposure during the pre- and neonatal periods.