Special Issue "Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Tetsuro Agusa
Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Environmental and Symbiotic Sciences, Prefectural University of Kumamoto, Kumamoto 862-8502, Japan
Interests: heavy metals; trace elements; arsenic; environmental pollution; human health effect; genetic susceptibility of chemicals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Heavy metal pollution of the environment and biota, including humans, is a serious problem in the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries with a rapid economic growth and increasing population. In these countries, severe pollution is frequently observed due to a lack of legal implementations and removal techniques, causing similar human health disasters to those that occurred in high-income countries in the past, such as the Minamata Disease and Itai Itai Disease. Groundwater pollution by arsenic or fluoride, which are naturally derived from aquifer, is also a critical issue, because groundwater is one of the most significant drinking water sources in some countries where clean sanitized water is not available in the required quantities. It is necessary to evaluate the spatiotemporal situation of metal pollution, estimate the future trends, assess the effects on human and wild animals, and mitigate such pollution. Furthermore, the development and usage of rare metals for industrial and medical use has recently increased. However, there is little information on the environmental behavior and toxicity of such rare metals up to now. Here, this Special Issue titled “Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment” of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health invites the submission of papers on the above areas to share recent knowledge on the environmental health issues of metals and to improve the quality of our ambient environment and, ultimately, to save our earth.

Prof. Dr. Tetsuro Agusa
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Metal pollution in air
  • Metal pollution in soil
  • Metal pollution in water
  • Metal pollution in wild animals
  • Metal pollution in humans
  • Metal pollution in low- and middle-income countries
  • Health risk assessment of metal exposure in wild animals
  • Health risk assessment of metal exposure in humans

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Associations between Cadmium Exposure and Taste and Smell Dysfunction: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2011–2014
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 943; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030943 - 03 Feb 2020
Abstract
Background: Cadmium is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant and has been associated with many adverse health outcomes. However, little is known about the effect of cadmium exposure on taste and smell dysfunction. Methods: We used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011–2014 [...] Read more.
Background: Cadmium is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant and has been associated with many adverse health outcomes. However, little is known about the effect of cadmium exposure on taste and smell dysfunction. Methods: We used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011–2014 to investigate the associations between blood cadmium and taste and smell dysfunction among 5038 adults aged 40–80 years old. Taste and smell dysfunction were defined by questionnaires, examinations, or both criteria. Results: In survey weighted logistic regression models adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, income-to-poverty ratio (IPR), and education, individuals with a blood cadmium level in the highest tertiles had significantly higher odds of having perceived smell dysfunction (odds ratio (OR) = 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08, 1.84), perceived taste dysfunction (OR = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.16, 1.89), and taste dysfunction defined by both self-reported and objectively measured data (OR = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.03, 2.07). After further adjusting for body mass index (BMI), cigarette smoking, and alcohol drinking, consistent results were observed for perceived taste dysfunction (OR = 1.49, 95% CI: 1.10, 2.00), and no significant associations were found between cadmium exposure and other outcomes. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that cadmium exposure is associated with perceived taste dysfunction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
Open AccessArticle
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(1), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010264 - 30 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Developing a New Spectral Index for Detecting Cadmium-Induced Stress in Rice on a Regional Scale
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4811; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234811 - 29 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In natural farmland ecosystems, cadmium (Cd) pollution in rice has attracted increasing attention because of its high toxicity, relative mobility, and high water solubility. This study aims to develop a spectral index for detecting Cd stress in rice on a regional scale. Three [...] Read more.
In natural farmland ecosystems, cadmium (Cd) pollution in rice has attracted increasing attention because of its high toxicity, relative mobility, and high water solubility. This study aims to develop a spectral index for detecting Cd stress in rice on a regional scale. Three experimental sites are selected in Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province. The hyperspectral data, chlorophyll (Chl) content, leaf area index, average leaf angle, Cd concentration in soil, and Sentinel-2A images from 2017 and 2018 are collected. A new spectral index sensitive to Cd stress in rice is established based on the global sensitivity analysis of the radiative transfer model PROSPECT + SAIL (commonly called PROSAIL) model with the auxiliary of the field-measured data. The heavy metal Cd stress-sensitive spectral index (HCSI) is devised as an indicator of the degree of Cd stress in rice. Results indicate that (1) the HCSI developed based on Chl is a good indicator of rice damage caused by Cd stress, that is, low values of HCSI occur in rice subject to relatively high pollution; (2) compared with common spectral indices, such as red-edge position and red-edge Chl index, HCSI is more sensitive to Chl content with higher Pearson correlation coefficients with respect to Chl content, ranging from 0.85 to 0.95; (3) HCSI is successfully applied in Sentinel-2A images from the two different years of monitoring rice Cd stress on a regional scale. Cd stress levels in rice stabilized, and the largest area percentage of each pollution levels of Cd decreased in the following order: No pollution (i.e., 40%), low pollution (i.e., 35%), and high pollution (i.e., 25%). This study indicates that a combination of simulation data from the PROSAIL model and measured data appears to be a promising method for establishing a sensitivity spectral index to heavy metal stress, which can accurately detect regional Cd stress in crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Heavy Metal in Paddy Soil and its Bioavailability in Rice Using In Vitro Digestion Model for Health Risk Assessment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4769; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234769 - 28 Nov 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Rice ingestion is one of the major pathways for heavy metal bioaccumulation in human. This study aimed to measure the heavy metal content of paddy soils and its bioavailability in paddy grain in order to assess the health risk. In total, 10 rice [...] Read more.
Rice ingestion is one of the major pathways for heavy metal bioaccumulation in human. This study aimed to measure the heavy metal content of paddy soils and its bioavailability in paddy grain in order to assess the health risk. In total, 10 rice samples (50 g each) of paddy plants were harvested from the Selangor and Terengganu areas of Malaysia to assess the bioavailability of heavy metal (As, Cd, Cu, Cr, and Pb) using the in vitro digestion model of Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu. The bioavailability of heavy metal concentrations in rice samples were analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). The findings showed the bioavailability of heavy metal concentrations was decreased in the order Cr > Cu > Pb > As > Cd. Chromium was found to be the most abundant bioavailable heavy metal in cooked rice, which was the result of its high content in paddy soil. Hazard Quotient values for the bioavailability of the heavy metal studied were less than one indicating no non-carcinogenic health risks for adults and children. Meanwhile, the total Lifetime Cancer Risk exceeded the acceptable value showing a potential of carcinogenic health risk for both adults and children. The application of in vitro digestion model in assessing bioavailability of heavy metal produces a more realistic estimation of human health risks exposure. However, a regular monitoring of pollution in Selangor and Terengganu areas is crucial since the exposure of heavy metals through rice consumption poses the potential non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic health risk to the local residents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Distribution and Contamination Assessment of Soil Heavy Metals in the Jiulongjiang River Catchment, Southeast China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4674; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234674 - 23 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
A total of 63 soil samples were collected from three soil profiles (yellow soil, red loam, red soil) from Jiulongjiang river catchment to investigate the distribution, controlling factors, and toxic risks of heavy metals, including Cr, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, and [...] Read more.
A total of 63 soil samples were collected from three soil profiles (yellow soil, red loam, red soil) from Jiulongjiang river catchment to investigate the distribution, controlling factors, and toxic risks of heavy metals, including Cr, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, and Ni. The results showed that Cr and Cd in soils were enriched. The relationships between heavy metals and soil properties were assessed by principal component analysis. The results indicated that soil organic matter (SOM) played a fundamental role in controlling Cd and Pb in yellow soil and red loam sites. The Cd was significantly correlated with Pb and Cu, and Cr, Zn, Ni, Fe displayed strong correlations with each other, however, no statistical correlation was found between Cd and Cr. The enrichment factor and geoaccumulation index analyses showed that the soils in the study area were contaminated by Cd. Potential ecological risk analyses indicated that Cd posed a considerable ecological risk in yellow soils, and posed a moderate ecological risk in red loams and red soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
The Mercury Behavior and Contamination in Soil Profiles in Mun River Basin, Northeast Thailand
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4131; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214131 - 26 Oct 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
To determine the geochemical characteristics and contamination of soil mercury in the Mun River basin, northeast Thailand, the vertical mercury distribution patterns and mercury contamination levels in six soil profiles under different land uses are studied. A total of 240 soil samples collected [...] Read more.
To determine the geochemical characteristics and contamination of soil mercury in the Mun River basin, northeast Thailand, the vertical mercury distribution patterns and mercury contamination levels in six soil profiles under different land uses are studied. A total of 240 soil samples collected from agricultural land, abandoned agricultural land, and woodland were analyzed by an RA-915M mercury analyzer to determine the total mercury (THg) content, which ranged from 0.13 to 69.40 μg∙kg−1 in the study area. In the soil cultivation layer (0–30 cm), the average content of THg in the woodland (15.89 μg∙kg−1) and the agricultural land (13.48 μg∙kg−1) were higher than that in the abandoned agricultural land (4.08 μg∙kg−1), indicating that the plants or crops could increase the content of mercury in the surface soil layer. The total organic carbon (TOC) and iron content with high positive correlations with the THg content significantly contributed to the adsorption of soil mercury. Moreover, a higher pH value in the soil and a finer grain size in soil texture can be beneficial for the enrichment of mercury. A geoaccumulation index was used to evaluate the contamination of mercury, showing that this area had a slight contamination, and a few soil sites were moderate contamination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Potentially Harmful Element Concentrations in the Vegetables Cultivated on Arable Soils, with Human Health-Risk Implications
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 4053; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16204053 - 22 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Potentially harmful elements (PHEs) were investigated in eight groups of vegetables cultivated in southern Poland and the relevant health-risk implications were assessed. The PHE contents belonged to the following ranges (mg/kg wet weight) in edible parts: As < limit of detection (LOD)-0.056, Cd [...] Read more.
Potentially harmful elements (PHEs) were investigated in eight groups of vegetables cultivated in southern Poland and the relevant health-risk implications were assessed. The PHE contents belonged to the following ranges (mg/kg wet weight) in edible parts: As < limit of detection (LOD)-0.056, Cd < LOD–0.375, Co < LOD–0.029, Cu < LOD–7.638, Hg < LOD–0.163, Ni < LOD–0.299, Pb < LOD–0.580, Sb < LOD–0.163, Tl < LOD–0.128, and Zn 1.23–34.9. The PHE concentrations decreased in the following order: Zn > Cu > Ni > Cd > Pb > Sb > Hg > Tl > As > Co. The concentrations of essential PHEs decreased as follows: root > leaf > seed > tuber > legume > inflorescence > shoot > fruit, while the unnecessary PHEs followed this sequence: leaf > root > tuber > legume > inflorescence > seed > shoot > fruit. Soil-to-plant transfer factors revealed capacities to adsorb Cd, Hg, and Tl in roots; Cd, Hg, Tl, and Zn in leaves; Cd, Hg, and Sb in tubers; and Cu, Sb, and Zn in legumes and seeds. The daily intake rates, as a percentage of permissible maximum tolerable daily intake, amounted to the following proportions: Cd 23%, Tl 13%, Hg 5.0%, Ni 3.1%, Pb 2.6%, and As 0.4%. Non-carcinogenic risk described as hazard quotient (HQ) was exceeded in root (HQ = 12.1), leafy (HQ = 2.1), and tuber (HQ = 1.4) vegetables. The carcinogenic risk of As (CR = 8.54 × 10−5) was found unacceptable. The margins of exposure for adults (MOE = 3.1) and children (MOE = 1.6), respectively, indicated a low health risk of Pb in consumed vegetables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Elemental Contamination in Indoor Floor Dust and Its Correlation with PAHs, Fungi, and Gram+/− Bacteria
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3552; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193552 - 23 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
In this study, we performed elemental analysis for floor dust samples collected in Jordanian microenvironments (dwellings and educational building). We performed intercorrelation and cluster analysis between the elemental, polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), and microorganism concentrations. In general, the educational building workshops had the highest [...] Read more.
In this study, we performed elemental analysis for floor dust samples collected in Jordanian microenvironments (dwellings and educational building). We performed intercorrelation and cluster analysis between the elemental, polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), and microorganism concentrations. In general, the educational building workshops had the highest elemental contamination. The age of the dwelling and its occupancy played a role on the elemental contamination level: older and more occupied dwellingshad greater contamination. The elemental contamination at a dwelling entrance was observed to be higher than in the living room. We found exceptionally high concentrations for Fe and Mn in the educational workshop and additionally, Hg, Cr, and Pb concentrations exceeded the limits set by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. According to the cluster analysis, we found three major groups based on location and contamination. According to the enrichment factor (EF) assessment, Al, Co, Mn, Ti, and Ba had EF < 2 (i.e., minimal enrichment) whereas P, S, Pb, Sb, Mo, Zn, Hg, and Cu had EF > 40 (i.e., extremely enriched). In contrast, Ca and P were geogenically enriched. Furthermore, significant Spearman correlations indicated nine subgroups of elemental contamination combined with PAHs and microbes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Improvement of Spatial Modeling of Cr, Pb, Cd, As and Ni in Soil Based on Portable X-ray Fluorescence (PXRF) and Geostatistics: A Case Study in East China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(15), 2694; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16152694 - 28 Jul 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
To verify the feasibility of portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) for rapidly analyzing, assessing and improving soil heavy metals mapping, 351 samples were collected from Fuyang District, Hangzhou City, in eastern China. Ordinary kriging (OK) and co-ordinary kriging (COK) combined with PXRF measurements were [...] Read more.
To verify the feasibility of portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) for rapidly analyzing, assessing and improving soil heavy metals mapping, 351 samples were collected from Fuyang District, Hangzhou City, in eastern China. Ordinary kriging (OK) and co-ordinary kriging (COK) combined with PXRF measurements were used to explore spatial patterns of heavy metals content in the soil. The Getis-Ord index was calculated to discern hot spots of heavy metals. Finally, multi-variable indicator kriging was conducted to obtain a map of multi-heavy metals pollution. The results indicated Cd is the primary pollution element in Fuyang, followed by As and Pb. Application of PXRF measurements as covariates in COK improved model accuracy, especially for Pb and Cd. Heavy metals pollution hot spots were mainly detected in northern Fuyang and plains along the Fuchun River in southern Fuyang because of mining, industrial and traffic activities, and irrigation with polluted water. Area with high risk of multi-heavy metals pollution mainly distributed in plain along the Fuchun River and the eastern Fuyang. These findings certified the feasibility of using PXRF as an efficient and reliable method for soil heavy metals pollution assessment and mapping, which could contribute to reduce the cost of surveys and pollution remediation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparisons among Machine Learning Models for the Prediction of Hypercholestrolemia Associated with Exposure to Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(15), 2666; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16152666 - 25 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Lead, mercury, and cadmium are common environmental pollutants in industrialized countries, but their combined impact on hypercholesterolemia (HC) is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to compare the performance of various machine learning (ML) models to predict the prevalence of HC [...] Read more.
Lead, mercury, and cadmium are common environmental pollutants in industrialized countries, but their combined impact on hypercholesterolemia (HC) is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to compare the performance of various machine learning (ML) models to predict the prevalence of HC associated with exposure to lead, mercury, and cadmium. A total of 10,089 participants of the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2008–2013 were selected and their demographic characteristics, blood concentration of metals, and total cholesterol levels were collected for analysis. For prediction, five ML models, including logistic regression (LR), k-nearest neighbors, decision trees, random forests, and support vector machines (SVM) were constructed and their predictive performances were compared. Of the five ML models, the SVM model was the most accurate and the LR model had the highest area under receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve of 0.718 (95% CI: 0.688–0.748). This study shows the potential of various ML methods to predict HC associated with exposure to metals using population-based survey data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Contamination and Health Risk Assessment of Heavy Metals in the Soil of Major Cities in Mongolia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(14), 2552; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142552 - 17 Jul 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
Using the case of Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, and Darkhan cities from Mongolia, the study aimed to assess the contamination level and health risk assessment of heavy metals (As, Cr, Pb, Ni, and Zn) in urban soil. A total of 78 samples was collected from [...] Read more.
Using the case of Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, and Darkhan cities from Mongolia, the study aimed to assess the contamination level and health risk assessment of heavy metals (As, Cr, Pb, Ni, and Zn) in urban soil. A total of 78 samples was collected from a variety of functional areas. The geoaccumulation index (Igeo) and integrated pollution index (IPI) were used in pollution assessment, while the health risk was scored using a hazard quotient (HQ) and health index (HI) for non-carcinogenic heavy metals, as well as a lifetime average daily dose (LADD) for carcinogenic heavy metals. The results show that the concentration of heavy metals in the soil samples taken from Darkhan city, which presented “uncontaminated” values in terms of Igeo for all metals, was relatively lower than other cities within the contamination assessment. Furthermore, the Igeo value signified “uncontimated to heavily contaminated” soil in the Ulaanbaatar and Erdenet cities. Typically, as for the IPI that observed similar trends with Igeo, the mean IPI values in Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, and Darkhan were 1.33 (moderate level of pollution), 1.83 (moderate level of pollution), and 0.94 (low level of pollution), respectively. In terms of the assessment of potential health risk, there was a particular or different level of ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation exposure pathway for human health. Among these three different pathways, the ingestion was estimated by the main contributor for health risk. Each value of HQ and HI indicated that soil heavy metals of studied cities were at a safe level (<1) or had the absence of a significant health risk there. In addition, the potential health risk for children was greater than for adults, where heavy metal values of HI for children had a high value compared to adults. We estimated carcinogenic risks through the inhalation exposure, and as a result, there were no significant risks for human health in the studied cities from three elements (As, Cr, and Ni). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Complexation of Antimony with Natural Organic Matter: Performance Evaluation during Coagulation-Flocculation Process
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(7), 1092; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071092 - 27 Mar 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
The presence of natural organic matter (NOM) in drinking water sources can stabilize toxic antimony (Sb) species, thus enhancing their mobility and causing adverse effects on human health. Therefore, the present study aims to quantitatively explore the complexation of hydrophobic/hydrophilic NOM, i.e., humic [...] Read more.
The presence of natural organic matter (NOM) in drinking water sources can stabilize toxic antimony (Sb) species, thus enhancing their mobility and causing adverse effects on human health. Therefore, the present study aims to quantitatively explore the complexation of hydrophobic/hydrophilic NOM, i.e., humic acid (HA), salicylic acid (SA), and L-cysteine (L-cys), with Sb in water. In addition, the removal of Sb(III, V) species and total organic carbon (TOC) was evaluated with ferric chloride (FC) as a coagulant. The results showed a stronger binding affinity of hydrophobic HA as compared to hydrophilic NOM. The optimum FC dose required for Sb(V) removal was found to be higher than that for Sb(III), due to the higher complexation ability of hydrophobic NOM with antimonate than antimonite. TOC removal was found to be higher in hydrophobic ligands than hydrophilic ligands. The high concentration of hydrophobic molecules significantly suppresses the Sb adsorption onto Fe precipitates. An isotherm study suggested a stronger adsorption capacity for the hydrophobic ligand than the hydrophilic ligand. The binding of Sb to NOM in the presence of active Fe sites was significantly reduced, likely due to the adsorption of contaminants onto precipitated Fe. The results of flocs characteristics revealed that mechanisms such as oxidation, complexation, charge neutralization, and adsorption may be involved in the removal of Sb species from water. This study may provide new insights into the complexation behavior of Sb in NOM-laden water as well as the optimization of the coagulant dose during the water treatment process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Mercury Exposure and Poor Nutritional Status Reduce Response to Six Expanded Program on Immunization Vaccines in Children: An Observational Cohort Study of Communities Affected by Gold Mining in the Peruvian Amazon
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 638; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040638 - 21 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Poor nutritional status combined with mercury exposure can generate adverse child health outcomes. Diet is a mediator of mercury exposure and evidence suggests that nutritional status modifies aspects of mercury toxicity. However, health impacts beyond the nervous system are poorly understood. This [...] Read more.
Background: Poor nutritional status combined with mercury exposure can generate adverse child health outcomes. Diet is a mediator of mercury exposure and evidence suggests that nutritional status modifies aspects of mercury toxicity. However, health impacts beyond the nervous system are poorly understood. This study evaluates antibody responses to six vaccines from the expanded program on immunization (EPI), including hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B, measles, pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria in children with variable hair mercury and malnutrition indicators. Methods: An observational cohort study (n = 98) was conducted in native and non-native communities in Madre de Dios, Peru, a region with elevated mercury exposure from artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Adaptive immune responses in young (3–48 months) and older children (4–8 year olds) were evaluated by vaccine type (live attenuated, protein subunits, toxoids) to account for differences in response by antigen, and measured by total IgG concentration and antibody (IgG) concentrations of each EPI vaccine. Mercury was measured from hair samples and malnutrition determined using anthropometry and hemoglobin levels in blood. Generalized linear mixed models were used to evaluate associations with each antibody type. Results: Changes in child antibodies and protection levels were associated with malnutrition indicators, mercury exposure, and their interaction. Malnutrition was associated with decreased measles and diphtheria-specific IgG. A one-unit decrease in hemoglobin was associated with a 0.17 IU/mL (95% CI: 0.04–0.30) decline in measles-specific IgG in younger children and 2.56 (95% CI: 1.01–6.25) higher odds of being unprotected against diphtheria in older children. Associations between mercury exposure and immune responses were also dependent on child age. In younger children, one-unit increase in log10 child hair mercury content was associated with 0.68 IU/mL (95% CI: 0.18–1.17) higher pertussis and 0.79 IU/mL (95% CI: 0.18–1.70) higher diphtheria-specific IgG levels. In older children, child hair mercury content exceeding 1.2 µg/g was associated with 73.7 higher odds (95% CI: 2.7–1984.3) of being a non-responder against measles and hair mercury content exceeding 2.0 µg/g with 0.32 IU/mL (95% CI: 0.10–0.69) lower measles-specific antibodies. Log10 hair mercury significantly interacted with weight-for-height z-score, indicating a multiplicative effect of higher mercury and lower nutrition on measles response. Specifically, among older children with poor nutrition (WHZ = −1), log10 measles antibody is reduced from 1.40 to 0.43 for low (<1.2 µg/g) vs. high mercury exposure, whereas for children with good nutritional status (WHZ = 1), log10 measles antibody is minimally changed for low vs. high mercury exposure (0.72 vs. 0.81, respectively). Conclusions: Child immune response to EPI vaccines may be attenuated in regions with elevated mercury exposure risk and exacerbated by concurrent malnutrition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
Determinants of Erythrocyte Lead Levels in 454 Adults in Florence, Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030425 - 01 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Lead exposure, even at low levels, is associated with adverse health effects in humans. We investigated the determinants of individual lead levels in a general population-based sample of adults from Florence, Italy. Methods: Erythrocyte lead levels were measured (using inductively [...] Read more.
Background: Lead exposure, even at low levels, is associated with adverse health effects in humans. We investigated the determinants of individual lead levels in a general population-based sample of adults from Florence, Italy. Methods: Erythrocyte lead levels were measured (using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) in 454 subjects enrolled in the Florence cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study in 1992–1998. Multiple linear regression models were used to study the association between demographics, education and working history, lifestyle, dietary habits, anthropometry, residential history, and (among women) menstrual and reproductive history and use of exogenous sex hormones, and erythrocyte lead levels. Results: Median lead levels were 86.1 μg/L (inter-quartile range 65.5–111.9 μg/L). Male gender, older age, cigarette smoking and number of pack-years, alcohol intake, and residing in urban areas were positively associated with higher erythrocyte lead levels, while performing professional/managerial or administrative work or being retired was inversely associated with lead levels. Among women, lead levels were higher for those already in menopause, and lower among those who ever used hormone replacement therapy. Conclusions: Avoidable risk factors contribute to the lead body burden among adults, which could therefore be lowered through targeted public health measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
A Framework for Rice Heavy Metal Stress Monitoring Based on Phenological Phase Space and Temporal Profile Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030350 - 26 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Previous studies make it possible to use remote sensing techniques to monitor heavy metal stress of rice synchronously and continuously. However, most studies mainly focus on the analysis of rice’s visual symptoms and physiological functions rather than temporal information during the growth period, [...] Read more.
Previous studies make it possible to use remote sensing techniques to monitor heavy metal stress of rice synchronously and continuously. However, most studies mainly focus on the analysis of rice’s visual symptoms and physiological functions rather than temporal information during the growth period, which may reflect significant changes of rice under heavy metal stress. In this paper, an enhanced spatial and temporal adaptive reflectance fusion model was used to generate synthetic Landsat time series. A normalized difference water index and an enhanced vegetation index were employed to build phenological phase space. Then, the ratio of the rice growth rate fluctuation (GRFI Ratio) was constructed for discriminating the different heavy metal stress levels on rice. Results suggested that the trajectories of rice growth in phenological phase space can depict the similarities and differences of rice growth under different heavy metal stress levels. The most common phenological parameters in the phase space cannot accurately discriminate the heavy metal stress level. However, the GRFI Ratio that we proposed outperformed in discriminating different levels of heavy metal stress. This study suggests that this framework of detecting the heavy metal pollution in paddy filed based on phenological phase space and temporal profile analysis is promising. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle
PM2.5-Bound Toxic Elements in an Urban City in East China: Concentrations, Sources, and Health Risks
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010164 - 08 Jan 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Concentrations of PM2.5-bound trace elements have increased in China, with increasing anthropogenic emissions. In this study, long-term measurements of PM2.5-bound trace elements were conducted from January 2014 to January 2015 in the urban city of Jinan, east China. A [...] Read more.
Concentrations of PM2.5-bound trace elements have increased in China, with increasing anthropogenic emissions. In this study, long-term measurements of PM2.5-bound trace elements were conducted from January 2014 to January 2015 in the urban city of Jinan, east China. A positive matrix factorization model (PMF) and health risk assessment were used to evaluate the sources and health risks of these elements, respectively. Compared with most Chinese megacities, there were higher levels of arsenic, manganese, lead, chromium, and zinc in this city. Coal combustion, the smelting industry, vehicle emission, and soil dust were identified as the primary sources of all the measured elements. Heating activities during the heating period led to a factor of 1.3–2.8 higher concentrations for PM2.5 and all measured elements than those during the non-heating period. Cumulative non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks of the toxic elements exceeded the safety levels by 8–15 and 10–18 times, respectively. Arsenic was the critical element having the greatest health risk. Coal combustion caused the highest risk among the four sources. This work provides scientific data for making targeted policies to control air pollutants and protect human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Rethinking the Dental Amalgam Dilemma: An Integrated Toxicological Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16061036 - 22 Mar 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Mercury (Hg) has been identified as one of the most toxic nonradioactive materials known to man. Although mercury is a naturally occurring element, anthropogenic mercury is now a major worldwide concern and is an international priority toxic pollutant. It also comprises one of [...] Read more.
Mercury (Hg) has been identified as one of the most toxic nonradioactive materials known to man. Although mercury is a naturally occurring element, anthropogenic mercury is now a major worldwide concern and is an international priority toxic pollutant. It also comprises one of the primary constituents of dental amalgam fillings. Even though dental mercury amalgams have been used for almost two centuries, its safety has never been tested or proven in the United States by any regulatory agency. There has been an ongoing debate regarding the safety of its use since 1845, and many studies conclude that its use exposes patients to troublesome toxicity. In this review, we present in an objective way the danger of dental amalgam to human health based on current knowledge. This dilemma is addressed in terms of an integrated toxicological approach by focusing on four mayor issues to show how these interrelate to create the whole picture: (1) the irrefutable constant release of mercury vapor from dental amalgams which is responsible for individual chronic exposure, (2) the evidence of organic mercury formation from dental amalgam in the oral cavity, (3) the effect of mercury exposure on gene regulation in human cells which supports the intrinsic genetic susceptibility to toxicant and, finally, (4) the availability of recent epidemiological data supporting the link of dental amalgams to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metal Pollution and Health Risk Assessment)
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