University of Oulu

Abass, K., Koiranen, M., Mazej, D. et al. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2017) 24: 1347.

Arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury levels in blood of Finnish adults and their relation to diet, lifestyle habits and sociodemographic variables

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Author: Abass, Khaled1,2,3; Koiranen, Markku4; Mazej, Darja5;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Biomedicine, and Medical Research Centre Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Finland
2Centre for Arctic Medicine, Thule Institute, University of Oulu, Finland
3Department of Pesticides, Menoufia University, Egypt
4Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Finland
5Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
6Biocentre Oulu, University of Oulu, Finland
7Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MRC PHE Centre for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, UK
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-09-20


The Northern Finland Birth Cohort program (NFBC) is the epidemiological and longitudinal prospective general population research program, which was established to promote health and wellbeing of the population in northern Finland. The aim of present study, as a part of the NFBC program, was to analyze the blood levels of arsenic (B-As), cadmium (B-Cd), lead (B-Pb), total mercury (B-Hg) and selenium (B-Se); to compare these levels with threshold limits; to study sociodemographic factors; and to correlate these levels with calcium and haemoglobin. The study was comprised of 249 NFBC subjects, of which 123 were female and 126 were male (ages 31.1 ± 0.3 and 31.1 ± 0.4, respectively). All participants were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding diet and living habits. The geometric means (± SD) of B-As were 0.49 ± 2.80 μg/l and 0.44 ± 2.72 μg/l; B-Cd were 0.18 ± 4.02 μg/l and 0.12 ± 3.21 μg/l; B-Pb were 17.0 ± 1.8 μg/l and 9.06 ± 2.20 μg/l; B-Hg were 2.18 ± 2.02 μg/l and 1.85 ± 1.78 μg/l; and B-Se were 106.0 ± 1.3 and 94.3 ± 1.3 μg/l in males and females, respectively. Among the subjects in the present analysis, 23 % of males and 17.1 % of females had B-As levels above the ATSDR normal human levels of B-As in unexposed individuals (1.0 μg/l). The B-Pb geometric mean (12.44 μg/l) was approximately one eighth the CDC toxicological cut-off point of 100 μg/l. Twenty-one individuals (8.4 %) exceeded a B-Hg level of 5.8 μg/l. Fifty-eight females (47 %) had a B-Hg higher than 2.0 μg/l, the German Federal Environmental Agency cut-off point for women (18–69 years) who consume fish at least three times/month; therefore, their babies could be at risk of adverse effects during development.

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Series: Environmental science and pollution research
ISSN: 0944-1344
ISSN-E: 1614-7499
ISSN-L: 0944-1344
Volume: 24
Issue: 2
Pages: 1347 - 1362
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-016-7824-5
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007–2013—Environment (including Climate Change) FP7-ENV-2008-1—under Grant Agreement No: 226534-ArcRisk. The financial support of the Slovenian research agency ARRS through a programme P1-0143 is acknowledged.
EU Grant Number: (226534) ARCRISK - Arctic Health Risks: Impacts on health in the Arctic and Europe owing to climate-induced changes in contaminant cycling
Copyright information: © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research. The final authenticated version is available online at: