Cadmium and mercury exposure over time in Swedish children

Knowledge about changes in exposure to toxic metals over time remains very sparse, in particular for children, the most vulnerable group. In this study, the authors assessed whether a reduction in environmental pollution with cadmium (Cd) and mercury (Hg) caused a change in exposure over time. In total, 1257 children (age 4-9) in two towns in Sweden were sampled once in 1986-2013. Blood concentrations of Cd (b-Cd; n=1120) and Hg (b-Hg; n=560) were determined. The median b-Cd was 0.10 (geometric mean 0.10; range 0.010-0.61) ?g/L and b-Hg was 0.91 (geometric mean 0.83; range 0.021-8.2) ?g/L. Children living close to a smelter had higher b-Cd and b-Hg than those in urban and rural areas. There was no sex difference in b-Cd or b-Hg, and b-Cd and b-Hg showed no significant accumulation by age. b-Cd decreased only slightly (0.7% per year, p<0.001) over the study period. In contrast, b-Hg did show a clear decrease over the study period (3% per year, p<0.001). The exposure to Cd was very low but still might increase the risk of disease later in life. Moreover, b-Cd only showed a minor decrease, indicating that Cd pollution should be further restricted. b-Hg was relatively low and decreasing, probably because of reduced use of dental amalgam and lower Hg intake from fish. The b-Cd and b-Hg levels decreased much less than the levels of lead in the blood as previously found in the same children. Authors: Lundh T, Axmon A, Skerfving S, Broberg K. ;Full Source: Environmental Research. 2016 Feb 24. pii: S0013-9351(16)30058-5. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.02.016. [Epub ahead of print] ;