Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 175, Issue 2, pp 298–305 | Cite as

Assessment the Exposure Level of Rare Earth Elements in Workers Producing Cerium, Lanthanum Oxide Ultrafine and Nanoparticles

  • Yan Li
  • Hua Yu
  • Peng Li
  • Ying BianEmail author


In order to assess occupational exposure level of 15 rare earth elements (REEs) and identify the associated influence, we used inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) based on closed-vessel microwave-assisted wet digestion procedure to determinate the concentration of Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb and Lu in urinary samples obtained from workers producing ultrafine and nanoparticles containing cerium and lanthanum oxide. The results suggest that La and Ce were the primary component, together accounting for 97 % of total REEs in workers. The urinary levels of La, and Ce among the workers (6.36, 15.32 μg.g−1 creatinine, respectively) were significantly enriched compared to those levels measured in the control subjects (1.52, 4.04 μg.g−1 creatinine, respectively) (p < 0.05). This study simultaneously identified the associated individual factors, the results indicate that the concentrations in over 5 years group (11.64 ± 10.93 for La, 27.83 ± 24.38 for Ce) were significantly elevated compared to 1–5 years group (2.58 ± 1.51 for La, 6.87 ± 3.90 for Ce) (p < 0.05). Compared the urinary levels of La and Ce at the separation and packaging locations (9.10 ± 9.51 for La, 22.29 ± 21.01 for Ce) with the other locations (2.85 ± 0.98 for La, 6.37 ± 2.12 for Ce), the results show urinary concentrations were significantly higher in workers at separation and packaging locations (p < 0.01). Inter-individual variation in levels of La and Ce in urine is the result of multi-factorial comprehensive action. Further researches should focus on the multiple factors contributing to the REEs levels of the occupationally exposed workers.


Exposure assessment Workers Cerium and lanthanum oxide nanoparticles Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) 



The authors would like to express sincere thanks to the University of Shanghai for technical support during sampling. The authors also acknowledge Zubing Wang, Jinshun Zhao, MinBo Lan, Wei Loo, Tianxi Hu, Zhaolin Xia, Muquan Yin, Yuliang Zhao, Chunying Chen, Guang Jia, Haifang Wang, Senlin Lu, Meng Tang, Frank Fanqing Chen, Liang Chen, and HuiHui Xu for their assistance.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medical SciencesUniversity of MacauMacauChina
  2. 2.Shanghai Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (SIOSH)ShanghaiChina

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