Unleaded Gasoline and Lead Level in Human Blood Kim Dae-Seon, Cha Jung Hoon Environmental Epidemiology Division, Environmental Risk Research Department, National Institute of Environmental Research, Gyeongseo-dong, Seo-gu, Incheon, Korea
Rapid economic development and industrialization has been accompanied by an increase of energy demand and environmental pollution. The consumption of gasoline has increased totally, but decreased in use of leaded gasoline after 1988 in Korea. On the other hand, risk assessment of environmental pollutants requires reliable dose estimates. Source oriented monitoring is not providing adequate information to estimate human exposure. The Health Surveillance Project has been launched in Korea from 1980, which questioned their symptoms based on questionnaires and medical examinations for inhabitants in the vicinity of 13 industrial areas and 2 non-industrial areas. 10,598 inhabitants living in these 15 areas had medical checkups and donated their blood for heavy metal analysis from 1980 to 2000 through this project. Especially lead levels in inhabitants' blood of these areas were determined and monitored. Totally 4,967 samples in target areas were used to review the trend of blood lead level in this paper. Average lead concentrations by areas were from 15.2 to 21.0 ug/dl in 1981 and 22.3 to 34.3 ug/dl in 1988, but were 8.8 to 11.1 ug/dl in 1992 and 4.4 to 4.8 ug/dl in 1995. On the other hand, the consumption of leaded gasoline was at a peak in 1988. Blood lead level showed a very close relationship with the consumption of leaded gasoline in the change pattern (p < 0.01) and showed a rapid declining trend since the use of unleaded gasoline, especially from 1988 when Seoul held the olympic games. For example, the blood lead levels were 15.2 ug/dl in 1981, 20.2 ug/dl in 1985, 24.3 ug/dl in 1988 and 3.9 ug/dl in 1993 in Yochon area. China also had monitored blood lead levels of general population. 7,015 inhabitants living in 28 areas donated their blood for heavy metal analysis from 1981 to 1988. Average lead concentrations by areas were from 5.1 to 8.6 ug/dl before 1984 but were from 2.8 to 11.2 ug/dl after 1984. Average lead concentration in blood showed increasing trends clearly in most of the areas. The recent policy of unleaded gasoline use for automobile will be a very beneficial policy for the management of atmospheric lead pollution & health risk assessment for the general population in China. It is recommended that it should be propelled more widely and rapidly to the entire country.