Cement production is a major source of metals and metalloids in the environment, while exposures to metals and metalloids may impact human health in the surrounding communities. We recruited 185 participants living in the vicinity of a cement plant in the northeast U.S., and measured the levels of aluminum (Al), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and selenium (Se) in blood and Hg in hair samples from them. A questionnaire was used to assess potential sources of Hg exposure. Multivariate regressions and spatial analyses were performed to evaluate the relative importance of different routes of exposures. The metal concentrations in blood or hair samples of our study participants were comparable to the U.S. general or regional population. Smoking contributed significantly to Cd and Pb exposures, and seafood consumption contributed significantly to Hg and As exposures, while variables related to the cement plant were not significantly associated with metal concentrations. Our results suggest that our study population was not at elevated health risk due to metal exposures, and that the contribution of the cement plant to metal exposures in the surrounding community was minimal.
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