In vivo x-ray fluorescence measurements of lead, cadmium and mercury in occupational and environmental studies: a review of work conducted in Sweden 1970-2005

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Lead, cadmium and mercury are toxic elements capable of causing temporary or permanent damage to human organs and tissues. An adequate control of these elements necessitates measurements in humans, on samples from man and the environment. This applies to both occupationally exposed subjects and to members of the general public including patients. The present paper will review the in vivo x-ray fluorescence (XRF) technique for non-invasive estimation of element levels directly in humans. Focus is on work conducted by researchers in Sweden between 1970 and 2005. Results from studies made with in vivo XRF on occupationally lead and cadmium exposed groups of workers have revealed very high levels of these elements in bone and kidneys, respectively. The development of the cadmium in vivo XRF technique implies usefilness even for measuring the low levels found in subjects of the general public, e.g. the detection limit for cadmium in kidney cortex allows for groups of smokers and non-smokers to be separated. Retired lead workers show a clear association between bone lead and blood lead due to the endogenous lead excretion from bone. Longitudinal studies of retired workers show biological half-lives for bone lead of several years. A study of mercury in vivo showed that the technique is capable of detecting the element in the kidneys of the most heavily exposed workers. In vivo XRF in oncology and rheumatology subjects, administered with therapeutic compounds containing platinum and gold, respectively, helps to understand the retention of these compounds in the human body. Copyright (C) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-68
JournalX-Ray Spectrometry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch