Heavy metals, the common pollutants emitted from industrial activities, are believed to cause harmful effects, partially through the mechanism of elevated oxidative stress, and antioxidant intake has been hypothesized to provide a potential protective effect against oxidative stress. This study aims to investigate the heavy metal exposure and the associated oxidative damage of young children living near a petrochemical complex and to assess the protective effect of antioxidant intake. There were 168 children recruited from the kindergartens near a huge petrochemical complex, with 87 as the high exposure group and 81 as the low exposure group. Urinary concentrations of eleven metals were detected by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and four biomarkers of oxidative stress were measured in urine by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The food frequency questionnaire was collected to assess participants’ intake of antioxidants. Multiple linear regression was performed to determine the predictors of metals for oxidative stress and to measure the beneficial effect of antioxidants. Weighted quantile sum regression was performed to determine the contributors among metals to the oxidative stress. Results showed that high exposure group had significantly higher concentrations of chromium, manganese, nickel, arsenic, strontium, cadmium, and lead when compared to those in low exposure group. There was no obviously difference on the total antioxidant intake and dietary profile between two groups. The elevated levels of two oxidative stress markers were significantly associated with most of the urinary metal concentrations in all study subjects after adjusting confounders, while no significant association was found between oxidative stress and antioxidant intake. Among the metals, mercury and strontium showed the dominated contributions for elevated levels of oxidative stress. It concluded that higher metal exposure was associated with elevated oxidative stress but with no protective effect by antioxidant intake among the young children residents near a petrochemical industry.
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