There is limited evidence on the distribution of heavy metals and its association with secondhand smoking (SHS) within Pacific Island children living in New Zealand. Certain heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and aluminum (Al) bioaccumulates in the body and can deteriorate health in both children and adults. Others, such as chromium (Cr) and nickel (Ni) in trace amounts are necessary but become toxic at high levels. Exposure routes of these elements include food, water, and air. The purpose of this study was to identify the distribution of toxic metal concentrations and its possible correlation with SHS within the Pacific Island children. A sub-sample of children within Pacific Island families longitudinal study, at the nine-year phase, who were living in the New Zealand city of Auckland were invited to participate, (n
= 278). Toenails were used as a biomarker to determine Cr, Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni, and Al concentration using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Reliable and validated questionnaires were used for demographics, lifestyle, and health outcome variables. Significant differences between household smoking status and ethnicity, as well as parents’ marital status, were observed (p
< 0.05). There was no statistical difference in heavy metal concentrations in smoking versus non-smoking households. However, Cr, Pb, Cd, Cu, and Ni concentrations were all higher than the required optimal health value in both groups. A high concentration of heavy metals was observed in these children that exceeded the value required for optimal health, although no significant difference in heavy metals with regards to secondhand smoking was observed. SHS was associated with children’s ethnicity and parental marital status, but not with household income levels or maternal education.
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