Toenail Metal Exposures in Fishermen from Bodo City, Nigeria

  • Aaron J. SpechtEmail author
  • Aisha S. Dickerson
  • Kale Z. Kponee-Shovein
  • Kpobari W. Nkpaa
  • Marc G. Weisskopf


We conducted exposure assessment using toenails from 20 fishermen living in Bodo City, a community of the Niger delta region in Nigeria. This community has been affected by over 4000 oil spills and environmental disasters. Fishing is the primary source of food and income for individuals in this community. Previous research in Bodo City found elevated metal levels in fish. Toenails were used as a biomarker to investigate the feasibility for use in risk assessment studies in developing countries. The toenails collected had significantly higher manganese levels (median 5.8 µg/g) and lead levels (median 0.98 µg/g) than those reported in more developed countries, comparable levels to those from other low-middle incomes countries. These exposure levels are likely a direct result of exposures from the environmental disasters the community has experienced and would be related to increased risks for many diseases previously associated with heavy metal exposures.


Nigeria Metals Oil spills Manganese Lead Toenails 



This study was supported by the National Research Service Award environmental epidemiology training grant (T32 ES 007069) and NIH/NIEHS grant ES-000002. The authors thank the Rose Travelling Fellowship at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for supporting travel for specimen collection. The authors thank Professor Matthew O. Wegwu at the University of Port Harcourt for advising and guiding us on sample collection. Lastly, we appreciate the assistance of summer intern, Mr. William Crystal for his assistance compiling and organizing literature in preparation for this study. No authors expressed any conflicts of interest with this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of Port HarcourtPort HarcourtNigeria

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