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Environ Monit Assess. 2015 Jun;187(6):352. doi: 10.1007/s10661-015-4587-2. Epub 2015 May 14.

Assessment of exposure to soils contaminated with lead, cadmium, and arsenic near a zinc smelter, Cassiopée Study, France, 2008.

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French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS) - Regional Office "Cire Midi-Pyrénées", Cire Midi-Pyrénées, 10 chemin du raisin, 31050, Toulouse cedex, France,


After 150 years of industrial activity, significant pollution of surface soils in private gardens and locally produced vegetables with lead, cadmium, and arsenic has recently been observed in Viviez (Southern France). A public health intervention was conducted in 2008 to identify individual health risks of Viviez inhabitants and to analyze their environmental exposure to these pollutants. Children and pregnant women in Viviez were screened for lead poisoning. Urinary cadmium testing was proposed to all inhabitants. Those with urinary cadmium levels over 1 μg/g creatinine were then tested for kidney damage. Urinary cadmium and arsenic levels were compared between participants with non-occupational exposure from Viviez and Montbazens, a nearby town not exposed to these two pollutants, in order to identify environmental factors contributing to impregnation. No case of lead poisoning was detected in Viviez, but 23 % of adults had urinary cadmium over 1 μg/g creatinine, 14 % of whom having markers of kidney damage. Viviez adults had higher levels of urinary cadmium, and to a lesser extent, higher levels of urinary arsenic than those from Montbazens. Consumption of local produce (vegetables and animals) and length of residence in Viviez were associated with higher urinary cadmium levels, independently of known confounding factors, suggesting persisting environmental exposure to contaminated soil. To conclude, health risks related to cadmium exposure were identified in the Viviez population living on contaminated soils. Lead and arsenic exposure did not pose health concerns. Interventions were proposed to reduce exposure and limit health consequences.

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