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Monitoring of heavy metal levels in the major rivers and in residents’ blood in Zhenjiang City, China, and assessment of heavy metal elimination via urine and sweat in humans

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Abstract

The coastal areas of China face great challenges, owing to heavy metal contamination caused by rapid industrialization and urbanization. To our knowledge, this study is the first report of the levels of heavy metals in the major rivers of Zhenjiang, one of the most important cities of the Yangtze River Delta in China. In addition, we measured heavy metal levels in the blood of 76 residents of Zhenjiang. The results suggest that the presence of heavy metals in the blood may threaten human health and the distribution appeared to correspond to most highly populated areas and/or areas with high traffic. We also found that the concentration of heavy metals in human blood showed an accumulation effect with increase in age. Moreover, the levels of most heavy metals were lower in participants who regularly exercised than in those who did not. We studied heavy metal levels in the urine and sweat of another 17 volunteers to monitor the elimination of bioaccumulated heavy metal. Heavy metals were found in the urine and sweat of all the 17 participants and were more concentrated in sweat. Induced micturition and sweating appear to be potential methods for the elimination of heavy metals from the human body.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Editor Dr. Philippe Garrigues and the anonymous reviewer for critical revisions. This work was supported by the National Nature Science foundation of China (2008ZX7313), the Science foundation of Zhenjiang, Jiangshu (grants SH2011013), and China Scholarship Council (no. 201406890057). The authors are grateful to Allan Mock of University of California at Los Angeles and David Chang for their assistance in polishing the English in this paper.

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Correspondence to Wenhui Qiu.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

Jianguo Sheng and Wenhui Qiu contributed equally to this work.

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Sheng, J., Qiu, W., Xu, B. et al. Monitoring of heavy metal levels in the major rivers and in residents’ blood in Zhenjiang City, China, and assessment of heavy metal elimination via urine and sweat in humans. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 11034–11045 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-6287-z

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