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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Dec;144(1-3):339-50. doi: 10.1007/s12011-011-9102-1. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Background values for essential and toxic elements in children's nails and correlation with hair levels.

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Laboratório de Toxicologia e Essencialidade de Metais, Departamento de Análises Clínicas, Toxicológicas e Bromatológicas, Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida do Café s/n, Monte Alegre, 14040-903, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


Human nails are an attractive matrix for assessing environmental exposures to toxic elements as well as the deficiency of essential elements since it is noninvasively collected and can be stored at room temperature. However, reference or baseline levels in nonexposed and healthy populations are not yet established. Then, the aims of this study were (a) to estimate background values for essential and toxic elements in nails from a healthy young population in southern Brazil and (b) to evaluate possible correlations between essential and toxic elements in nails. Furthermore, this report took part of a recent study of background values in the hair of a young population. Thus, correlations between chemical elements in nails and hair were also evaluated. Nails were collected from healthy children (n = 126), and element concentrations were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. This study provides new and reliable reference concentrations for toxic and essential elements in children's nails. The results can be used as reference values for epidemiological or clinical investigations based on trace elements in nails. Additionally, we also showed weak to strong correlations between Cu, Mg, Mn, Se, and Zn levels in nails and hair.

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