Blood lead levels of british competitive cyclists

G. Atkinson, D. Maclaren, C. Taylor

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    This study examined the extent to which the potentially toxic lead particulates emitted from motor vehicles are absorbed by competitive cyclists. A time trial (n = 5), a road race (n = 5), and a sedentary control group (n = 5) were examined with respect to blood lead (PbB) levels. In the two cycling groups, the PbB levels were measured before and after (1) a time trial (80km) held on a dual carriageway; and (2) a road race (120km) which took place in a rural area. Mean (± SE) resting PbB levels for the sedentary subjects, time trialists, and road racers were 0.442 ± 0.041, 0.490 ± 0.111 and 0.384 ± 0.061 μmoll−1 respectively (p > 0.05). Mean post-race PbB levels of the time trialists (0.528 ± 0.046μmol1-1) and road racers (0.346 ± 0.024 μmol1-1) did not differ significantly from the pre-race levels (p > 0.05). However, after their respective races, the mean PbB level of the time trialists was higher than that of the road racers (p < 0.05). Ninety minutes of cycling (70% VO2max) in a laboratory containing approximately 1μgm3 of airborne lead did not affect blood lead levels. All PbB levels complied with EC regulations regarding lead exposure. Despite a positive relationship between the amount of training and the PbB levels (r = 0.64, p < 0.05), competitive cyclists did not evidence abnormal levels of lead absorption. Time trialing on dual carriageways was associated with higher PbB levels than road racing. Further research should examine the PbB levels of a larger sample of competitive cyclists.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)43-48
    Number of pages6
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994


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