Indoor metallic pollution and children exposure in a mining city

Enio Barbieri, Francisco E. Fontúrbel, Cristian Herbas, Flavia L. Barbieri, Jacques Gardon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mining industries are known for causing strong environmental contamination. In most developing countries, the management of mining wastes is not adequate, usually contaminating soil, water and air. This situation is a source of concern for human settlements located near mining centers, especially for vulnerable populations such as children. The aim of this study was to assess the correlations of the metallic concentrations between household dust and children hair, comparing these associations in two different contamination contexts: a mining district and a suburban non-mining area. We collected 113 hair samples from children between 7 and 12. years of age in elementary schools in the mining city of Oruro, Bolivia. We collected 97 indoor dust samples from their households, as well as information about the children's behavior. Analyses of hair and dust samples were conducted to measure As, Cd, Pb, Sb, Sn, Cu and Zn contents. In the mining district, there were significant correlations between non-essential metallic elements (As, Cd, Pb, Sb and Sn) in dust and hair, but not for essential elements (Cu and Zn), which remained after adjusting for children habits. Children who played with dirt had higher dust-hair correlations for Pb, Sb, and Cu (P= 0.006; 0.022 and 0.001 respectively) and children who put hands or toys in their mouths had higher dust-hair correlations of Cd (P= 0.011). On the contrary, in the suburban area, no significant correlations were found between metallic elements in dust and children hair and neither children behavior nor gender modified this lack of associations. Our results suggest that, in a context of high metallic contamination, indoor dust becomes an important exposure pathway for children, modulated by their playing behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume487
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children exposure
  • Hair samples
  • Household dust
  • Metallic pollution
  • Metallic trace elements
  • Mining pollution

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