Next Article in Journal
Chemical Atherogenesis: Role of Endogenous and Exogenous Poisons in Disease Development
Next Article in Special Issue
Risk Mitigation Measures: An Important Aspect of the Environmental Risk Assessment of Pharmaceuticals
Previous Article in Journal / Special Issue
Personal Exposure to Air Pollution in Office Workers in Ireland: Measurement, Analysis and Implications
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Toxics 2014, 2(1), 1-16; doi:10.3390/toxics2010001

Levels of Metals in Hair in Childhood: Preliminary Associations with Neuropsychological Behaviors

Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, Institut d'Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili (IISPV), "Rovira i Virgili" University, Reus, Catalonia 43201, Spain
Research Center for Behavior Assessment (CRAMC), Department of Psychology, "Rovira i Virgili" University, Tarragona, Catalonia 43007, Spain
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Catalonia 08003, Spain
Hospital del Mar Research Institute (IMIM), Barcelona, Catalonia 08003, Spain
Spanish Consortium for Research on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Catalonia 08036, Spain
Pompeu Fabra" University (UPF), Barcelona, Catalonia 08002, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 October 2013 / Revised: 20 December 2013 / Accepted: 20 December 2013 / Published: 30 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Risk Assessment of Environmental Contaminants)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [463 KB, uploaded 30 December 2013]   |  


For more than 100 years, an electrochemical plant has been operating in Flix (Catalonia, Spain) by the Ebro River. Its activities have originated a severe accumulation of environmental contaminants (metals, organochlorinated pesticides and radionuclides) in sediments of the Flix reservoir, while mercury (Hg) has been also frequently released to the air. Environmental exposure to industrial pollutants has been associated with decreased intelligence and behavioral problems. In the present study, we assessed, in 53 children living in the village of Flix and the surroundings, the relationships between the concentrations of a number of trace elements (As, Be, Cd, Cs, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sn, Tl, U and V) in hair and the levels of testosterone in blood, with respect to potential neuropsychological alterations. Lead (Pb) and Hg showed the highest mean concentrations in hair samples. However, the current Hg levels were lower than those previously found in children living in the same zone, while the concentration of the remaining elements was similar to those reported in the scientific literature. The outcomes of certain neuropsychological indicators showed a significant correlation with metals, such as Pb and uranium (U). More specifically, these elements were negatively correlated with working memory and hit reaction time, suggesting impulsivity. In summary, although Pb and U concentrations in hair were within standard levels, both metals could be correlated with certain, but minor, neuropsychological alterations in the childhood population of Flix. These findings should be confirmed by future birth cohort studies, with bigger study populations and using more complex statistical analyses, focused on human exposure to these specific elements. View Full-Text
Keywords: heavy metals; environmental exposure; human hair; testosterone; n-back; working memory; impulsivity; finger-tapping heavy metals; environmental exposure; human hair; testosterone; n-back; working memory; impulsivity; finger-tapping

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Torrente, M.; Gascon, M.; Vrijheid, M.; Sunyer, J.; Forns, J.; Domingo, J.L.; Nadal, M. Levels of Metals in Hair in Childhood: Preliminary Associations with Neuropsychological Behaviors. Toxics 2014, 2, 1-16.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Toxics EISSN 2305-6304 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top