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Biomonitoring of urinary metals in a population living in the vicinity of industrial sources: A comparison with the general population of Andalusia, Spain

Aguilera, Inmaculada, Daponte, Antonio, Gil, Fernando, Hernández, Antonio F., Godoy, Patricia, Pla, Antonio, Ramos, Juan Luis
Science of the total environment 2008 v.407 no.1 pp. 669-678
urine, heavy metals, gender, age, adults, public health, industry, cadmium, environmental exposure, copper, arsenic, pollutants, chromium, lifestyle, diet, regression analysis, nickel, reference standards, urban population, environmental monitoring, Spain
The Ria of Huelva (south-west Spain) is one of the most polluted fluvial-estuarine systems in the world. Industrial activity delivers huge amounts of pollutants to the local environment, particularly heavy metals and arsenic. Here we aimed to determine urinary levels of As, Cd, Cr, Cu and Ni in a representative sample (n =857) of adults living in the Ria of Huelva. Levels were compared to those from a representative sample of 861 adults of the general urban population of Andalusia (southern Spain) and multiple regression models were developed to identify individual factors associated with urinary levels of these elements. Arsenic levels were significantly higher in the Ria of Huelva as compared to other Andalusian cities, whereas Cd and Ni levels were significantly lower. Despite these differences, levels in both groups were similar to the reference values reported in previous studies for general population. Age, gender, diet and lifestyle were the major factors contributing to the interindividual variation in urinary metals. In conclusion, despite living in a highly polluted area, the population of the Ria of Huelva failed to show higher urinary levels of the studied metals as compared to a reference urban population of the same region.