Adult exposures to toxic trace elements as measured in nails along the interoceanic highway in the Peruvian Amazon
Pettigrew, S., Pan, W., Harrington, J. M., Berky, A., Rojas, E., & Feingold, B. (2022). Adult exposures to toxic trace elements as measured in nails along the interoceanic highway in the Peruvian Amazon. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(10), Article 6335. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19106335
Deforestation, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), and the rapid development related to highway expansion cause opportunities for toxic trace element exposure in the Amazon region of Madre de Dios (MDD), Peru, one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. The objective of this study was to assess the exposure to arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury among adults in Madre de Dios. In total, 418 adult (18+ years) participants in the Investigacion de Migracion, Ambiente, y Salud (IMAS) (Migration, Environment, and Health Study) participated in this study. Consent, survey data, and biospecimens were collected between August and November 2014. Nail elements were measured by inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry. Differences by selected individual and household characteristics and local land uses were tested using one-way ANOVAs and linear mixed models. Adults in ASGM-affected areas had higher nail arsenic and nail cadmium than their non-ASGM counterparts. Higher household fish consumption was positively associated with nail mercury and nail lead. The results indicate that adult exposure to arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury is heterogeneous across Madre de Dios, and the exposures related to ASGM communities and fish consumption suggest that exposures from artisanal and small-scale mining are environmentally widespread. Further investigation is warranted to ascertain potential health impacts.