Lead accumulates in bone over many years or decades. Accordingly, the study of lead in bone is important in determining the fate of ingested lead, the potential for remobilization, and for the application of bone lead measurements as a biomarker of lead exposure. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) was used to measure the spatial distribution of lead in bone on the micrometer scale. In general, LA-ICP-MS studies are somewhat limited by the lack of matrix-matched standards and/or reference materials for calibration and validation purposes. Here we describe the application of pressed pellets prepared from New York State Department of Health candidate reference materials for Lead in Bone (levels 1 through 4), to provide a linear calibration for 208Pb/43Ca in the concentration range <1 to 30 μg g−1. The limit of detection was estimated as 0.2 μg g−1. The measured lead values for pelletized NIST SRM 1486 Bone Meal and SRM 1400 Bone Ash were in good agreement with certified reference values. Using this approach, we quantitatively measured the spatial distribution of lead in a cross-section of goat metacarpal from a lead-dosed animal. The lead content was spatially variable in the range 2–30 μg g−1 with a complex distribution. In some sections, lead appeared to be enriched in the center of the bone relative to peripheral areas, indicating preferential accumulation in trabecular (spongy) rather than cortical bone. In addition, there were discrete areas of lead enrichment, or hot spots, of 100–200 μm width.
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