Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 2, pp 987–999 | Cite as

Bioavailability of iodine in the UK-Peak District environment and its human bioaccessibility: an assessment of the causes of historical goitre in this area



Iodine is an essential micronutrient for human health. Its deficiency causes a number of functional and developmental abnormalities such as goitre. The limestone region of Derbyshire, UK was goitre-endemic until it declined from the 1930s and the reason for this has escaped a conclusive explanation. The present study investigates the cause(s) of goitre in the UK-Peak District area through an assessment of iodine in terms of its environmental mobility, bioavailability, uptake into the food chain and human bioaccessibility. The goitre-endemic limestone area is compared with the background millstone grit area of the UK-Peak District. The findings of this study show that ‘total’ environmental iodine is not linked to goitre in the limestone area, but the governing factors include iodine mobility, bioavailability and bioaccessibility. Compared with the millstone grit area, higher soil pH and calcium content of the limestone area restrict iodine mobility in this area, also soil organic carbon in the limestone area is influential in binding the iodine to the soil. Higher calcium content in the limestone area is an important factor in terms of strongly fixing the iodine to the soil. Higher iodine bioaccessibility in the millstone grit than the limestone area suggests that its oral bioaccessibility is restricted in the limestone area. Iodine taken up by plant roots is transported freely into the aerial plant parts in the millstone grit area unlike the limestone area, thus providing higher iodine into the human food chain in the millstone grit area through grazing animals unlike the goitre-prevalent limestone area.


Bioaccessibility Bioavailability Docks Iodine Peak District 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education, Health and SciencesUniversity of DerbyDerbyUK
  2. 2.Centre for Radiation, Chemicals and Environmental HazardsPublic Health EnglandLondonUK
  3. 3.University of WinchesterWinchesterUK

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