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Environ Monit Assess. 2017 Feb;189(2):84. doi: 10.1007/s10661-016-5733-1. Epub 2017 Jan 30.

The geographic distribution of trace elements in the environment: the REGARDS study.

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Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Indiana University at Bloomington, Bloomington, IN, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Drexel University, Nesbitt Hall, 3215 Market St, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.


Research on trace elements and the effects of their ingestion on human health is often seen in scientific literature. However, little research has been done on the distribution of trace elements in the environment and their impact on health. This paper examines what characteristics among participants in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study are associated with levels of environmental exposure to arsenic, magnesium, mercury, and selenium. Demographic information from REGARDS participants was combined with trace element concentration data from the US Geochemical Survey (USGS). Each trace element was characterized as either low (magnesium and selenium) or high (arsenic and mercury) exposure. Associations between demographic characteristics and trace element concentrations were analyzed with unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression models. Individuals who reside in the Stroke Belt have lower odds of high exposure (4th quartile) to arsenic (OR 0.33, CI 0.31, 0.35) and increased exposure to mercury (OR 0.65, CI 0.62, 0.70) than those living outside of these areas, while the odds of low exposure to trace element concentrations were increased for magnesium (OR 5.48, CI 5.05, 5.95) and selenium (OR 2.37, CI 2.22, 2.54). We found an association between levels of trace elements in the environment and geographic region of residence, among other factors. Future studies are needed to further examine this association and determine whether or not these differences may be related to geographic variation in disease.


REGARDS study; Stroke; Trace elements

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