Biomonitoring Release of Elements from Water Pipes Using Hair Mineral Analysis
Katarzyna Chojnacka1, Marcin Mikulewicz12, Izabela Michalak1, Agnieszka Saeid1, Helena Górecka1, Henryk Górecki1
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1Institute of Inorganic Technology and Mineral Fertilizers, Wrocław University of Technology,
Smoluchowskiego 25, 50-372 Wrocław, Poland
2Department of Dentofacial Orthopeadics and Orthodontics, Medical University of Wrocław,
Krakowska 26, 50-425 Wrocław, Poland
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2011;20(6):1419-1432
This paper reports the results of a biomonitoring study of exposure to elements released by water pipes by hair mineral analysis with the consideration of gender. Hair of a population of 117 students living in an urban area in Poland was analyzed for the content of elements by ICP-OES (macroelements) and ICP-MS (micro-, toxic and other trace elements). The participants were grouped according to the material of which water pipes in their households were made (steel, copper, plastic). The population was of uniform age (21-22 years). The mean values and standard deviations of the content of 34 elements were reported for the whole population as well as for other populations and the subgroups. The mean level of the following elements was higher: As, Ba, Bi, Ca, Na, and lower: Hg. Statistically significant differences between the subpopulations for which the grouping variable was the type of tap water pipes were found for the following elements: Fe, Mn, Na, Ti (release order: plastic>steel>copper), Mg (copper>plastic>steel), Ni (plastic>copper>steel). The composition of water (from the same water purification station), from pipes made of different materials: steel, copper and plastic was determined. The release of elements to water was confirmed. The results of biomonitoring study by hair mineral analysis were compared with multielemental analysis of water. Plastic pipes were found to release the highest quantities of elements, which was confirmed by both a biomonitoring study and direct analysis of water: Ni, Ti, Al, Hg, Sn, Mo, Li, Ag, Cu, Sr, B. For copper pipelines both types of analyses showed release of: Ag, Cu, Si, As, and in steel: Zr and Zn. Elements, the level of which depended on sex, were indicated. The content of elements in hair and also the effect of gender were compared with other populations reported in the literature. Additionally, ratios between elements in the present and in various groups were investigated. It was found that the content of alkaline earth metals (Ba, Ca, and Mg) was statistically significantly higher in hair of females than males in almost all the groups. The release of elements with gender as additional grouping variable was confirmed for Ag and As, which were eluted in the highest amounts from copper plumbing, Mn and Si from plastic pipes. Hair of males seemed more appropriate for a biomonitoring study since more statistically significant differences were confirmed. This can be explained with the cosmetic treatment of hair by females.
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