Natasha, Dumat C., Shahid M., Khalid S., Murtaza B. (2020) Lead Pollution and Human Exposure: Forewarned is Forearmed, and the Question Now Becomes How to Respond to the Threat!. In: Gupta D., Chatterjee S., Walther C. (eds) Lead in Plants and the Environment. Radionuclides and Heavy Metals in the Environment. Springer, Cham.


At the global scale, persistent lead (Pb) pollution has been considered as a major threat for human health due to its exposure through numerous pathways. The scientific literature regarding potential adverse health effects of Pb is mainly related with human exposure through ingestion, occupational exposure, or dermal absorption. Lead exposure mainly occurs when Pb dust or fumes are inhaled, or when Pb is ingested via contaminated hands, food, water, cigarette, or clothing. Lead entering the digestive and respiratory system is released to the blood and distributed to the whole body. However, data regarding exposomics of Pb (all possible human exposures to Pb including diet, lifestyle, and endogenous sources) is much more limited. Most research on the health effects of Pb focused on the individual routes, mostly soil and water ingestion pathway.

In this chapter, we summarize the current scientific information regarding human exposure to Pb through the various possible routes, their bioaccessible fraction and its accumulation in different body organs. Moreover, the contamination of different exposure media, Pb concentration and the associated human health indices have been calculated to assess the possible carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risk. These studies indicate that Pb exposure may cause potential human health hazards which suggested being the cause of various organ disorders. Thus, the possible exposure to potentially toxic element Pb through occupational exposure (in addition to workers members of the general public may also be affected due to lead containing releases), atmospheric exposure, skin-contact, water, soil and plant ingestion have been described in four tables and four figures. Based on this current state of knowledge, strategies can then be proposed to reduce human Pb exposure in a context of increasing human density in highly anthropogenic urban areas, and ultimately other metals that have been less studied.

Lead Environmental contamination Human exposure Toxicity Health risk 

Co-autrice :

Camille Dumat est professeure à l’INP-Ensat, sciences du sol, risques et Agriculture Urbaine, et membre du Certop. Ses recherches concernent le devenir et l’impact environnemental et sanitaire des polluants.

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