Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Honorary Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 2789susan.hodgson Website




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BibTex format

author = {Shepherd, TJ and Dirks, W and Roberts, NMW and Patel, JG and Hodgson, S and Pless-Mulloli, T and Walton, P and Parrish, RR},
doi = {10.1016/j.envres.2015.12.017},
journal = {Environmental Research},
pages = {145--153},
title = {Tracing fetal and childhood exposure to lead using isotope analysis of deciduous teeth},
url = {},
volume = {146},
year = {2016}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - We report progress in using the isotopic composition and concentration of Pb in the dentine and enamel of deciduous teeth to provide a high resolution time frame of exposure to Pb during fetal development and early childhood. Isotope measurements (total Pb and 208Pb/206Pb, 207Pb/206Pb ratios) were acquired by laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry at contiguous 100 micron intervals across thin sections of the teeth; from the outer enamel surface to the pulp cavity. Teeth samples (n=10) were selected from two cohorts of children, aged 5–8 years, living in NE England. By integrating the isotope data with histological analysis of the teeth, using the daily incremental lines in dentine, we were able to assign true estimated ages to each ablation point (first 2–3 years for molars, first 1–2 years for incisors+pre-natal growth). Significant differences were observed in the isotope composition and concentration of Pb between children, reflecting differences in the timing and sources of exposure during early childhood. Those born in 2000, after the withdrawal of leaded petrol in 1999, have the lowest dentine Pb levels (<0.2 µg Pb/g) with 208Pb/206Pb (mean ±2σ: 2.126–2.079) 208Pb/206Pb (mean ±2σ: 0.879–0.856) ratios that correlate very closely with modern day Western European industrial aerosols (PM10, PM2.5) suggesting that diffuse airborne pollution was probably the primary source and exposure pathway. Legacy lead, if present, is insignificant. For those born in 1997, dentine lead levels are typically higher (>0.4 µgPb/g) with 208Pb/206Pb (mean ±2σ: 2.145–2.117) 208Pb/206Pb (mean ±2σ: 0.898–0.882) ratios that can be modelled as a binary mix between industrial aerosols and leaded petrol emissions. Short duration, high intensity exposure events (1–2 months) were readily identified, together with evidence that dentine provides a good proxy for ch
AU - Shepherd,TJ
AU - Dirks,W
AU - Roberts,NMW
AU - Patel,JG
AU - Hodgson,S
AU - Pless-Mulloli,T
AU - Walton,P
AU - Parrish,RR
DO - 10.1016/j.envres.2015.12.017
EP - 153
PY - 2016///
SN - 1096-0953
SP - 145
TI - Tracing fetal and childhood exposure to lead using isotope analysis of deciduous teeth
T2 - Environmental Research
UR -
UR -
VL - 146
ER -