Thursday, 17 October 2013

Trace elements in scalp hair of children chronically exposed to volcanic activity (Mt. Etna, Italy)

(c) Josep Renalias
This article has been written by D. Varrica, E. Tamburo, G. DongarrĂ  and F. Sposito of Dip. Scienze della Terra e del Mare, Palermo - Italy.

The aim of this survey was to use scalp hair as a biomonitor to evaluate the environmental exposure to metals and metalloids of schoolchildren living around the Mt. Etna area, and to verify whether the degree of human exposure to trace elements is subject to changes in local environmental factors.
Twenty trace elements were determined in 376 samples of scalp hair from schoolboys (11–13 years old) of both genders, living in ten towns located around the volcanic area of Mt. Etna (Sicily). The results were compared with those (215 samples) from children living in areas of Sicily characterized by a different geological setting (reference site). As, U and V showed much higher concentrations at the volcanic site whereas Sr was particularly more abundant at the reference site. Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) indicated an Etna factor, made up of V, U and Mn, and a second factor, concerning the reference site, characterized by Ni and Sr, and to a lesser extent by Mo and Cd. Significant differences in element concentrations were also observed among three different sectors of Mt. Etna area. Young people living in the Mt. Etna area are naturally exposed to enhanced intakes of some metals (V, U, Mn) and non-metals (e.g., As) than individuals of the same age residing in other areas of Sicily, characterized by different lithologies and not influenced by volcanic activity. The petrographic nature of local rocks and the dispersion of the volcanic plume explain the differences, with ingestion of water and local food as the most probable exposure pathways.

Dip. Scienze della Terra e del Mare (DiSTeM), via Archirafi 36, 90123 Palermo, Italy
D. Varrica, E. Tamburo, G. DongarrĂ  and F. Sposito