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Sci Total Environ. 1990 Mar;92:199-206.

Cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc concentrations in human scalp and pubic hair.

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Institute of Toxicology, University of Düsseldorf, West Germany.


Cadmium, Cu, Pb, and Zn concentrations were measured in the first 3 cm of the proximal end of scalp hair and in pubic hair of 41 humans, by atomic absorption spectrometry. Data are presented as geometric means. Scalp hair (SH) metal levels were higher than those in pubic hair (PH), (Cd, 85.1 vs 60.8 ng g-1; Cu, 17.7 vs 11.9 micrograms g-1; Pb, 1.72 vs 1.05 micrograms g-1; Zn, 148.8 vs 133.3 micrograms g-1) with correlation coefficients of: Cd, r = 0.474; Cu, r = 0.549; Pb, r = 0.576; and Zn, r = 0.263. Further correlations were established between Cd and Pb levels (SH, r = 0.691; PH, r = 0.621) as well as between Cd and Zn levels (SH, r = -0.268). In PH the Cd, Cu, and Pb levels of males were higher than those of females, whereas the Zn levels were lower in SH and PH of males. Scalp hair Zn contents were inversely related to age. Cadmium and Pb levels in SH and PH were higher in summer than in winter, whereas the SH Zn contents were higher in winter. An influence of place of residence, smoking habit, hair colour and hair structure on SH and PH metal levels is identified. It is concluded that hair metal analysis in samples close to the scalp is not seriously invalidated by sources of external contamination.

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