Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 30, pp 23666–23678 | Cite as

Effects of sex on the levels of metals and metalloids in the hair of a group of healthy Spanish adolescents (13 to 16 years old)

  • Antonio Peña-Fernández
  • Maria del Carmen Lobo-Bedmar
  • Maria José González-Muñoz
Research Article

Abstract

Human biomonitoring can be a reliable tool to protect the health of the citizens of major urban environments. Human hair may be an invaluable specimen to determine chronic exposure to any environmental contaminant in an individual, especially in the young population. However, different factors including a lack of studies that have established reference values for metals and metalloids (trace elements) in human scalp hair make the use of this matrix controversial. A monitoring study was performed to establish possible normal or tentative reference values of Al, As, Be, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Pb, Sn, Ti, Tl and Zn in adolescents’ (aged 13–16) hair who have lived since birth in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid region (Spain). Strict inclusion criteria were followed to study the effect of sex on the hair metal content, and the levels of the above contaminants were also studied in park topsoils from Alcalá de Henares. Scalp hair samples were collected from 96 healthy adolescents (28 boys and 68 girls), and reference values were calculated following the recommendations of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. The levels of Cd, Cu, Pb, Sn and Zn in hair of adolescents from Alcalá de Henares show a sex dependency, being significantly higher in female participants. Sex should be a factor taken into account when developing future reference values and hair metal content. Soil metal contamination was not correlated with the levels found in hair. To conclude, the values of metals and metalloids here analysed and discussed could be considered as tentative reference values for Spanish adolescents aged 13–16 years living in the Madrid region, and may be used to identify the level of exposure of adolescents in this Spanish region to the various metals and metalloids.

Keywords

Biomonitoring Metals and metalloids Human hair Adolescents Reference values Spain 

Notes

Acknowledgements

In memoriam of Prof. Salvador Granero.

The authors report no financial interests or potential conflicts of interest. The above work is part of a doctoral thesis (Peña-Fernández 2011) which has been funded through the programme EIADES: “Technology Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sites” S0505/AMB-0296 and S2009/AMB-1478, Consejería de Educación, Comunidad de Madrid, Spain.

The authors would like to express their sincere appreciation to Mark D. Evans, De Montfort University, for proof reading.

Compliance with ethical standards

The guidelines of the Helsinki Declaration were followed to perform this study.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, School of Allied Health SciencesDe Montfort UniversityLeicesterUK
  2. 2.Unidad de Toxicología, Departamento de Ciencias BiomédicasUniversidad de AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Investigación AgroambientalIMIDRAAlcalá de HenaresSpain

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