Using urine as a biomarker in human exposure risk associated with arsenic and other heavy metals contaminating drinking groundwater in intensively agricultural areas of Thailand
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Urine used as a biomarker was collected and compared between two groups of participants: (1) a groundwater-drinking group and (2) a non-groundwater-drinking group in intensively agricultural areas in Ubon Ratchathani province, Thailand. The statistical relationship with the metal concentration in shallow groundwater wells was established with urine data. According to the groundwater data, the health risk assessment results for four metals appeared to be higher for participants who drank groundwater than for the other group. The carcinogenic risk and non-carcinogenic risk of arsenic (As) were found in 25.86 and 31.03% of participants, respectively. For lead (Pb), 13.79% of the participants had a non-carcinogenic risk. Moreover, 30 of the 58 participants in the groundwater-drinking group had As urine higher than the standard, and 26, 2 and 9 of the 58 participants had above-standard levels for cadmium (Cd), Pb and mercury (Hg) in urine, respectively. Both the risk assessment and biomarker level of groundwater-drinking participants were higher than in the other group. The results showed an average drinking rate of approximately 4.21 ± 2.73 L/day, which is twice as high as the standard. Interestingly, the As levels in the groundwater correlated with those in the urine of the groundwater-drinking participants, but not in the non-groundwater-drinking participants, as well as with the As-related cancer and non-carcinogenic risks. The hazard index (HI) of the 100 participants ranged from 0.00 to 25.86, with an average of 1.51 ± 3.63 higher than the acceptable level, revealing that 28 people appeared to have non-carcinogenic risk levels (24 and 4 people for groundwater-drinking participants and non-groundwater-drinking participants, respectively). Finally, the associated factors of heavy metals in urine were the drinking water source, body weight, smoking, sex and use of personal protective equipment.
KeywordsGroundwater Heavy metals Risk assessment Biomarker Urine Thailand
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