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Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Natural concentrations and reference values for trace elements in soils of a tropical volcanic archipelago 2016-10-25


    Fernando de Noronha is a small volcanic archipelago in the Southern Atlantic, some 350 km NE of the city of Natal in NE Brazil. These remote volcanic islands represent a largely pristine environment, distant from sources of anthropogenic contamination. This study was carried out to determine the natural concentrations of Ag, Ba, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, V and Zn in the A and B horizons of soils of Fernando de Noronha. The aims of the study were twofold: determine whether there is a relationship between the bedrock geology and soils and to establish quality reference values for soils from Fernando de Noronha. Soil samples were subjected to acid digestion by the USEPA method 3051A, and metals were determined by inductively coupled plasma emission spectrophotometry. The results showed that the trace element distribution largely reflects the geochemistry of the underlying volcanic rocks of the Remedios and Quixaba Formations. The results demonstrate that the concentrations of Ba, Cr, Zn, Ni and Cu from the soils of the volcanic Fernando de Noronha archipelago are higher than those found in soils from continental Brazil. However, concentrations of Ni, Cu and Co are lower in soils of the archipelago as compared to other volcanic islands throughout the world. The elevated trace element concentrations of the volcanic parent material of Fernando de Noronha soils seem to be the main factor governing the relatively high natural concentrations of trace elements.

  • Potentially harmful elements in house dust from Estarreja, Portugal: characterization and genotoxicity of the bioaccessible fraction 2016-10-22


    Due to their behavioral characteristics, young children are vulnerable to the ingestion of indoor dust, often contaminated with chemicals that are potentially harmful. Exposure to potentially harmful elements (PHEs) is currently exacerbated by their widespread use in several industrial, agricultural, domestic and technological applications. PHEs cause adverse health effects on immune and nervous systems and can lead to cancer development via genotoxic mechanisms. The present study is an integrated approach that aims at assessing the genotoxicity of bioaccessible PHEs following ingestion of contaminated house dust. A multidisciplinary methodology associating chemical characterization of five house dust samples, extraction of the bioaccessible PHEs in gastric extracts by the unified BARGE method, determination of the bioaccessible fraction and in vitro genotoxicity of gastric extracts in adenocarcinoma gastric human (AGS) cells was developed. The five gastric extracts induced dose-dependent genotoxicity in AGS cells. Copper (bioaccessible concentration up to 111 mg/kg) was probably the prevalent PHE inducing primary DNA damage (up to 5.1-fold increase in tail DNA at 0.53 g/l of gastric extract). Lead (bioaccessible concentration up to 245 mg/kg) was the most prevalent PHE inducing chromosome-damaging effects (r = 0.55; p < 0.001 for micronucleated cells induction). The association of principal component analysis and Spearman’s correlations was decisive to understand the chromosome-damaging properties of the bioaccessible PHEs in AGS cells. This methodology could be used on a larger-scale study to provide useful information for science-based decision-making in regulatory policies, and a better estimation of human exposure and associated health risks.

  • Correlation of lithium levels between drinking water obtained from different sources and scalp hair samples of adult male subjects 2016-10-18


    There is some evidence that natural levels of lithium (Li) in drinking water may have a protective effect on neurological health. In present study, we evaluate the Li levels in drinking water of different origin and bottled mineral water. To evaluate the association between lithium levels in drinking water with human health, the scalp hair samples of male subjects (25–45 years) consumed drinking water obtained from ground water (GW), municipal treated water (MTW) and bottled mineral water (BMW) from rural and urban areas of Sindh, Pakistan were selected. The water samples were pre-concentrated five to tenfold at 60 °C using temperature-controlled electric hot plate. While scalp hair samples were oxidized by acid in a microwave oven, prior to determined by flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The Li content in different types of drinking water, GW, MTW and BMW was found in the range of 5.12–22.6, 4.2–16.7 and 0.0–16.3 µg/L, respectively. It was observed that Li concentration in the scalp hair samples of adult males consuming ground water was found to be higher, ranged as 292–393 μg/kg, than those who are drinking municipal treated and bottle mineral water (212–268 and 145–208 μg/kg), respectively.