Introduction and objective:
Health hazards caused by environmental exposure to lead is of concern in many places in the world. Lead is particularly harmful to young children who could be also exposed to lead in-utero through exposure of their mothers before pregnancy. There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects to the organism. Identifying local sources of lead in the environment is a very important part of preventing exposure as there is no cure for lead poisoning. The usefulness of children's primary teeth and the permanent teeth of adults as an indicator of chronic environmental exposure to lead in polluted area have been studied.

The aim of the study was to assess the usefulness of teeth as an indicator of chronic environmental exposure to lead of children and adults in the Silesia Province (Poland), as a particularly polluted area.

Material and methods:
A total of 71 primary teeth from children and 85 permanent teeth from adults were analyzed for lead content. The material was collected as a result of planned tooth extractions for medical reasons.

The primary teeth were characterized by significantly higher concentrations of lead than the teeth collected from adults. The amount of lead in the teeth of adults varied depending on gender, but did not differ much from the place of residence. The lead content in the teeth was higher in the group of younger than older children, which may be an indication of prenatal exposure.

Children's primary teeth are more useful bioindicator than adult teeth for determining environmental exposure to lead, and may also indicate the cumulative exposure to lead of their mothers.

The authors express their thanks to the patients who consented to their teeth being collected for the study. In the case of juvenile patients, consent was given by the parents or legal guardians. The study was funded by the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland (Grant No. KNW-2–229/D/7/K).
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