Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 7946–7953 | Cite as

Toxic heavy metals in human blood in relation to certain food and environmental samples in Kerala, South India

  • Anitha Jose
  • Joseph George RayEmail author
Research Article


Toxic heavy metals such as arsenic (As), lead (Pb), and mercury (Hg) are systemic toxicants that are hazardous to human health. However, as these elements are increasing in the environment due to fast urbanization, industrialization, and chemicalized agricultural activities, accumulation of the same in human body anywhere in the world is quite interesting to global assessment of environment quality. In this connection, random examination of blood samples of human population in Kerala, South India, was carried out to assess the threat of heavy metal contamination to humans in this part of the globe, especially in relation to the amount of such metals in food and other environmental samples. Except pure vegetarians, people of Kerala consume rice as the staple food with a lot of fish. Therefore, the amount of these three heavy metals in drinking water, fish, rice, and paddy soils was done. Heavy metals in the blood were examined in relation to age, gender, and dietary habits such as frequency of fish eating or vegetarianism. Influence of dental amalgam fillings on blood mercury levels was also analyzed. Quantitative assessment of metals in samples was done by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury were found well below the reference values, though diet seemed to pull them up as the amount of metals in blood showed significant differences between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Evidence to the influence of dental amalgam fillings on blood mercury levels could not be established with the present samples.


Arsenic Lead Mercury Human blood Metal toxicity Heavy metal contamination 


Funding information

The first author gratefully acknowledge the financial support received under the FDP scheme of the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, and the Management of Assumption Autonomous College, Changanacherry, Kottayam, Kerala, India, for the leave sanctioned in carrying out this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was conducted in accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki (WMA 2013) on the ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects including research on identifiable human material and data. Informed consent regarding willingness to participate in the study was collected personally after explaining the study protocol in full, and those who volunteered to participate in the study alone were included.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Ecology & Eco technology, School of BiosciencesMahatma Gandhi UniversityKottayamIndia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyAssumption CollegeKottayamIndia
  3. 3.School of BiosciencesMahatma Gandhi UniversityKottayamIndia

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