Relationship Between Lead (Pb) Concentration in Soil, Grass , Blood, Milk and δ-aminolevulinic Acid Dehydratase (ALAD) Activity , Hemoglobin (Hb) and Hematocrit (Hct) in Grazing Cows from Vicinity of Smelter “Trepça” in Kosovo

Document Type : Original Article


1 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina”, 10000 Prishtina, Repulic of Kosovo

2 Faculty of Education, University of Mitrovica “Isa Boletini”, 40000 Mitrovica, Repulic of Kosovo

3 Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary, University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina”, 10000 Prishtina, Repulic of Kosovo

4 Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina”, 10000 Prishtina, Repulic of Kosovo


This study aimed to evaluate current lead concentration (Pb) in topsoil, grass, blood and milk, ALAD activity, hemoglobin (Hb) and hematocrit (Hct) i cows (Simmental breed), rearing in three villages situated in different distances from the smelter “Trepça”: Kalemend 2km, Boletin 3km and Zazhë 5km and Koliq 40km. The Pb concentration in samples is measured by atomic absorption spectrometry ( AAS), blood ALAD activity is measured according the CEC standardized method. Pb concentration in topsoil and grass in the three villages from smelter is higher (P<0.001) than Pb concentration in reference. Blood lead level (BLL) in cows from smelter area is higher (P<0.001) than in control. Milk lead level (MLL) in cows from smelter area is higher compared with control. Blood ALAD activity in cows from smelter area is significantly (P<0.001) inhibited compared with control. There is adverse correlation (r=-0.812, P<0.001) between BLL and ALAD activity in cows from Kelmend, A positive correlation   ((r=0.987, P<0.001) is established between BLL and MLL in cows from Boletin. There is no significant difference of Hb and Hct values among each group of cows. There was progressive decrease of Pb concentration in topsoil, grass, blood and milk with increasing distance from the smelter. ALAD activity is proved as sensitive and useful biomarker at very low BLLs in cows. The vicinity of smelter still poses threat for livestock welfare and human health. 


1. Nriagu J.O., 1996. A history of global meta l pollution. Science. 272, 223-224.
2. Csavina  J., Taylor M.P., Félix O., Rine K.P., Sáez A.E., Betterton E. A. 2014. Size –resolved dust and aerosols contaminants associated with copper and lead smelting emissions  implications for emission management and human health. Sci Total Environ. 493, 750-7 56.
3. Borgna L., Di Lella L.A., Nanon  F., Pisani A., Pizzetti  E., Protano G., Riccobono F., RRossi S., 2009. The high contents of lead in soils of northern Kosovo. J Geochem Explor. 101, 137-146.
4. Šajn R., Aliu M., Stafilov T., Alijagic J., 2013. Heavy metal contamination of topsoil around lead and zinc smelter in Kosova Mitrovica/Mitrovicw, Kosovo/Kosovw. Journal of Geochemical Exploration. 134, 1-16.
5. Nanoni F., Protano G., Riccobono., 2011. Fractionation and geochemical mobility of heavy elemnts in soils of mining area in northern Kosovo. Geoderma .161. 63-73.
6. Zogaj M., Pacarizi M., During R.A., 2014. Spatial distribution of heavy metals and assessment of their bioavaibility in agricultrural soils in Kosovo. Carpatian Journal of Earth Sciences. 9(1). 221-230.
7. Kelmendi M., Sadiku M., Kadriu S., Dobroshi F., Igrishta L., Baruti B., 2018. Research of heavy metals on the agricultural land in Bajgora region, Kosovo. Acta Chemica IASI. 21(1), 105-122.
8. Deda Sh., Kastrati R., Elezi Xh., Bakalli R., Demaj A., Konjufca V., 1996. Lead concentrations in crops from vicinity of lead industry of “Trepca” plant. Environmental Letters (Special issue). 29-32.
9. Nanoni F., Rosi S., Protano G., 2016. Potentially toxic element contamination in soil and accumulation in mize plants in a smelter area in Kosovo. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 23(12), 11937-11946.  doi 10.1007/s11356-016-6411-0
10. Gashi B., Osmai M., Aliu S., Zogaj M., Kastrati F., 2020. Risk assessment of heavy metal toxicity by sensitive biomarker δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALA-D) for onion plants cultivated in polluted areas in Kosovo. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B. 1-8.
11. Gonzalez-Montana J.R., Senis E., Gutierrez A.. Prieto F., 2012. Cadmium and lead in bovine milk in the mining areof the Caudal River (Spain). Environ Monit Assess.184, 4029-4034.
12. Rahimi E., 2013. Lead and cadmium concentrations in goat, cow, sheep, and buffalo milks from different regions from Iran. Food Chemistry. 136, 389-391.
13. Najarnezhad V., Jalilzahed –Amin G., Anassori E., Zeinali V., 2015. Lead and cadmium in raw buffalo, cow and eve milk from the west Azerbaijan, Iran. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part B. 8(2), 123-127. doi: 1o.1080/1939210.2015.10077396
14. Swarup D., Patra R.C., Naresh R., Kumar P., Shekhar., 2005. Blood lead levels in lactating cows reared around polluted localities; transfer of lead into milk. Science of the Total Environment. 347, 106-110.
15. Patra R.C., Swarup D., Kumar P., Nandi D., Naresh R., Ali S.L., 2008. Milk trace elements in lactating cows environmentally exposed to higher level of lead and cadmium around different industrial units. Science of the Total Environment. 404, 36-43.
16. Temiz H., Soylu A., 2012. Heavy metal concentrations in raw milk collected from different regions of Samsun, Turkey. International Journal of Diary Technology. 65, 1-7.
17. Bilandzic N., Dokic M., Sedak M., Solomun B., Varenina I., Knezevic Z., Benic M., 2011. Trace element levels in raw milk from northern and southern Croatia. Food Chemistry.127, 63-66.
18. Bilandzic N., Dokic M., Sedak M., Calopek B., Bozic-Liburic D., Solomun-Kolanovic B., Varenina I., Dokic M., Kmetic I., 2016. Lead concentrations in raw cow and Goat milk collected from rural areas in Croatia from 2010 to 2014. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol.  96(5), 645-649. doi: 10.107/soo128-016-1749-z.
19. Pilarczyk R.,Vojcik J., Czerniak P., Sadlik P., Pilarezyk B., Tomza-Marciniak A., 2013. Concentrations of toxic heavy metals and trace elements in raw milk of Simmental and Holstein- Friesian cows from organic farms. Environ Mont Assess. 185, 8383-8329.
20. Qin L.Q., Wang X.P., Li W., Tong X., Tong W.J., 2009 . The Minerals and Heavy Metals in Cows’s Milk from China and Japan. 55(2), 300 - 305.
21. Rubio M.R., Sigrist M.E., Encinas E.E., Baroni J.E., Caronel J.C., Boggio H.R., Beldomenico.,1998. Cadmium and lead levels in cow’s milk from milking region in Santa Fe, Argentina. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 60, 164-167.
22. Stamatovic S., Milic D., 1968. Problems of air pollution in Yugoslavia. Proccedings of the First European Congress on the Influence of Air Pollution on Plants and Animals. Wageningen, Aprill 22 to 27, 255-257.
23. Telišman S., Prpic-Majic D., Keršanc A., 1990. Relationships between blood lead and indicators of effect in cows environmentally exposed to lead. Toxicology Letters. 52, 347-356.
24. Prpic-Majic D., Karacic V., Skender Lj., 1990. A follow-up study of lead absorbtion in cows as an indicator of environmental lead pollution. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 45, 19-24.
25. Zadnik T., 2007. A 25-year long monitoring of lead content in the blood cows from a stationaty polluted area. Int J Environment and Pollut. 31(1/2), 34-40.
26. Rodriguez-Estival J., Jose E., Barasona A., Mateo R., 2012. Blood Pb and δ-ALAD inhibition in cattle and sheep from polluted mining area. Environmenatl Pollution. 100, 118-124.
27. Elezaj  I.R., Selimi Q.I., Letaj K.Rr., Millaku L.B., Sefaja L., 2013. Metal Accumulation, Blood δ-Aminolevulinic Acid Dehydratase Activity and Micronucleated Erithrocytes of Feral pigeons (Columba livia) Living Near Former Lead-Zinc Smelter “Trepça”- Kosovo.2013. E3S web Conf. 1, 34001. DOI:10.1051/ e3sconf/2013014001, 2013.
28. Bischoff  K., Hillebrandt J., Erb H.N., Thompson B., Johns S., 2016. Comparison blood and tissue lead concentrations from cattle with known lead exposure. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A. 33(10), 1563-1569.
29. Aluc Y., Ekici H., 2019. Investigation of Hevay Metal Levals in Blood of Three Cattle Breeds in Turkey. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 103(5), 739-744.
30. Jurjanz S., Feidt C., Perez-Prieto L.A., Ribeiro-Hilho H.M.N., Rychen G., Delagarde R., 2012. Soil intake in lactating dairy cows in intensive strip grazing systems.  Animal. 6(8), 1350-1359.
31. Berlin A., Schaller K.H., 1974. European standardized method for the determination of delta- aminolevulinic acid dehydratase  activity in blood. Z Klin Chem Klin Biochem. 12, 389-390.
32. Koljonen T., 1992. Geochemical Atlas of Finland, Part 2: Till.Geological Survey of Finland, Espoo, Finland. pp. 218.
33. Fergusson J.E., 1990. The Heavy Elements: Chemistry, Environmental Impact and Health Effects. Pergamon Press, Oxford. pp. 614.
34. Cai Q., Long L., Zhu M., Zhou Q.z., Zhang L., Liu. 2009. Food chain transfer of cadmium and lead to catle in lead-zinc smelter in Guizhau, China.  Environmental  Pollution. 157, 3078-3082.
35. Thornton T., Abrahams P., 1986. Soil ingestion – a major pathway of heavy metals into livestock grazing contaminated land. The   Science  of the Total Environment. 28, 287-294.
36. Zadnik T. Monitoring of lead in topsoil, forage, blood, liver, and kidneys in cows in a lead polluted area in Slovenia (1975-2002) and a case of lead poisoning in 1993. International  Journal  of Chemical Engineering. 10, 1-9. doi:10.1155/2010/940206.
37. Cowan V.,  Blakley B., 2016. Acute lead   poisoning in western Canadian cattle- A 16-year retrospective study of diagnostic case records. CVJ. 57, 421-426.
38. Patra R.C., Swarup D., Sharma M.C., Naresh R., 2006. Trace mineral profile in blood and hair from cattle environmentally exposed to lead and cadmium around different industrial units. J Vet Med. A53, 311-317.
39. Waldner C., Checkley S., Blakley B., 2002. Managing lead exposure and toxicity in cow-calf herds to minimize  the potential for food residues. J Vet Diag Invest. 14, 481-486.
40. Telišman S., Pongracic J., Cretnik R., Prpic-Majic D., 1985. Lead in milk and indicators of lead absorption in cows from lead contaminated and control areas. In: T.D. Lekkas (Ed.), Heavy Metals in the Environment. Vol. 1. CEP Consultants Ltd., Edinburgh. pp. 417419. 2
41. Simsek O., Gultekin R., Oksuz O., Kurultay S., 2000. The effect of en vironmental pollution on the heavy metal content of raw milk. Nahrung. 44(5), 360-363. 
42. Pavlovic I., Sikirc M., Havranek J.L., Plavljanic N., Brajenovic N., 2004. Lead and cadmium levels in raw cow’s milk from and industrial Croatian region determined be electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry. Czech J Anim Sci. 49(4), 164-168.
43. European Commission. 2006. Commission regulation (EC) no 1181/2006: setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs [Internet]. [place unknown]; [cited 2015 Jul 7]. Available from: http://eur-lex.europa. eu/legal-content EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:02006R1881- 20100701
44. Bischoff K., Higgins W., Thompson B., Ebel J.G., 2014. Lead excretion in milk of accidentally exposed dairy cattle. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A. 31(5), 839-884.