Contribution of Particle-Size-Fractionated Airborne Lead to Blood Lead during the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2008

The objective of this work is to examine associations between blood lead (PbB) and air lead (PbA) in particulate matter measured at different size cuts by use of PbB concentrations from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and PbA concentrations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 1999–2008. Three size fractions of particle-bound PbA (TSP, PM<sub>10</sub>, and PM<sub>2.5</sub>) data with different averaging times (current and past 90-day average) were utilized. A multilevel linear mixed effect model was used to characterize the PbB–PbA relationship. At 0.15 μg/m<sup>3</sup>, a unit decrease in PbA in PM<sub>10</sub> was significantly associated with a decrease in PbB of 0.3–2.2 μg/dL across age groups and averaging times. For PbA in PM<sub>2.5</sub> and TSP, slopes were generally positive but not significant. PbB levels were more sensitive to the change in PbA concentrations for children (1–5 and 6–11 years) and older adults (≥60 years) than teenagers (12–19 years) and adults (20–59 years). For the years following the phase-out of Pb in gasoline and a resulting upward shift in the PbA particle size distribution, PbA in PM<sub>10</sub> was a statistically significant predictor of PbB. The results also suggest that age could affect the PbB–PbA association, with children having higher sensitivity than adults.