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Open AccessArticle

Toxic Metals Depuration Profiles from a Population Adjacent to a Military Target Range (Vieques) and Main Island Puerto Rico

1
Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan 00936, Puerto Rico
2
Center for Environmental and Toxicological Research, San Juan 00936, Puerto Rico
3
Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, Universal Central del Caribe, Bayamón 00956, Puerto Rico
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010264
Received: 12 November 2019 / Revised: 15 December 2019 / Accepted: 20 December 2019 / Published: 30 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
Background: The island of Vieques (a municipality of Puerto Rico) was used as a military practice range by the US Navy for more than 60 years. Many studies have reported the presence of toxic metals in soil samples taken from Vieques. The bombing range is only 18 km upwind from the Vieques residential area and inhalable resuspended particles resulting from bombing are known to reach the populated area. The current study reports for the first time, the presence of toxic metals’ depuration profiles obtained from Vieques and Main Island Puerto Rico human subjects. Objectives: This study was designed to evaluate the distribution of toxic metals in a random population exposed to contaminants originating from military activities and comparing it to a non-exposed random population from Main Island Puerto Rico. Methods: A total of 83 subjects studied; 32 were from Vieques and 51 were from Main Island Puerto Rico. A physician administrated chelation therapy to all subjects and collected urine samples during a 24-h period. A total of 20 trace elements associated with military activities were measured in urine by induced coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The results were compared between both population samples. Results: Significant differences in the levels of eight trace elements associated with military practices were found between Vieques and Main Island Puerto Rico. Lead (Pb), aluminum (Al), uranium (U) (p < 0.001), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) (p = 0.02), and gadolinium (Gd) (p = 0.03) were significantly higher in Vieques while niobium (Nb) and platinum (Pt) levels (p < 0.006) were lower in the Vieques samples. Discussion: Higher concentrations of Pb, Al, As, Cd, Gd, and U were found in Vieques residents’ urine samples compared to Main Island. Nonetheless, Pt and Ga were present in Main Island at higher concentrations than in Vieques. Although limited by its sample size, this report should set a basis for the importance of health assessment in these subjects exposed to military activities remnants throughout the years and further evaluation of their effects on the overall health of the population. View Full-Text
Keywords: heavy metals; metals; environmental toxicology; military activity; pollution; environmental pollution heavy metals; metals; environmental toxicology; military activity; pollution; environmental pollution
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Jirau-Colón, H.; Cosme, A.; Marcial-Vega, V.; Jiménez-Vélez, B. Toxic Metals Depuration Profiles from a Population Adjacent to a Military Target Range (Vieques) and Main Island Puerto Rico. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 264.

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