Blood biomonitoring of metals in subjects living near abandoned mining and active industrial areas
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A human blood biomonitoring campaign to detect the environmental exposure to metals (Cd, Cu, Cr, Mn, Pb and Zn) in 265 subjects was performed in the South-Western part of Sardinia (an Italian island) that is a particular area with a great history of coal and metal mining (Pb/Zn mainly) activities and large industrial structures (as metallurgy). Subjects living near the industrial plant area had geometric means (GM) of blood Cd (0.79 μg/l), Cu (971 μg/l), Mn (12.2 μg/l), and Pb (55.7 μg/l) significantly higher than controls (Cd, 0.47 μg/l; Cu, 900 μg/l; Mn 9.98 μg/l; Pb, 26.5 μg/l) and than people living nearby the past mining sites. Subjects living next to one dismissed mine were statistically higher in blood Cu (GM, 1,022 μg/l) and Pb (GM, 41.4 μg/l) concentrations than controls. No differences were observed in people living in the different mining sites, and this might be related to the decennial disclosure of mines and the adoption of environmental remediation programmes. Some interindividual variables influenced blood biomonitoring data, as smoke and age for Cd, gender for Cu, age, sex and alcohol for Pb, and age for Zn. Moreover, blood metal levels of the whole population were similar to reference values representative of the Sardinian population and acceptably safe according to currently available health guidelines.