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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2013 Oct;96:118-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.05.031. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

Rare earth elements in human hair from a mining area of China.

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Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11 A Datun Road, Beijing 100101, PR China.


Rare earth minerals have been mined for more than 50 years in Inner Mongolia of China. In the mining area rare earth elements (REE) may be significantly accumulated in humans. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to characterize the REE concentrations in hair of local residents. REE concentrations in hair of 118 subjects were determined. The results showed that the mean concentrations of the determined REE in the hair of both females and males were usually higher from mining area than from control area. The mean concentrations of all the fifteen REE were much higher in hair of males than in hair of females from mining area. This suggested that males might be more sensitive to REE than females. In addition, the mean contents of the REE in hair of miners, particularly light REE (La, Ce, Pr and Nd), were usually much higher than the values in hair of non-miners from both mining area and control area, indicating that the miners were exposed to higher concentrations of REE in occupational environment. Among age groups, the relationships between REE concentrations and age groups showed that more and more concentrations of light REE accumulated in body of both females and males with age until 60 years, while heavy REE concentrations decreased with age in males who were exposed to low concentrations of heavy REE.


Accumulation; Baiyunebo mining area; Human hair; Rare earth element

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