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Environ Int. 2018 Sep;118:106-115. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.05.045. Epub 2018 Jun 1.

Nickel and associated metals in New Caledonia: Exposure levels and their determinants.

Author information

1
Axe Santé des Populations et Pratiques Optimales en Santé, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, 1050 chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, QC G1S 4L8, Canada.
2
Laboratoire de Biochimie -Toxicologie, Centre Hospitalier Territorial Gaston-Bourret, 110 boulevard Joseph Wamytan, BP J5, 98849 Nouméa cedex, Nouvelle-Calédonie.
3
Bioeko, 7 bis rue Suffren, 98800 Nouméa, Nouvelle-Calédonie.
4
Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset-UMR_S 1085, F-35000 Rennes, France.
5
Axe Santé des Populations et Pratiques Optimales en Santé, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, 1050 chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, QC G1S 4L8, Canada; Centre de toxicologie du Québec, Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec, 945 avenue Wolfe, Québec, QC G1V 5B3, Canada.
6
Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset-UMR_S 1085, F-35000 Rennes, France. Electronic address: sylvaine.cordier@univ-rennes1.fr.

Abstract

The ultramafic massifs of the New Caledonian archipelago contain about 10% of the world's nickel reserves, which also contain significant but lower amounts of cobalt, chromium, and manganese. Natural erosion of these massifs and mining activities may contribute to the exposure of local populations to these metals through contamination of air, food, and water resources. We conducted a biomonitoring survey to evaluate exposure to these four metals and its main determinants by constructing a stratified sample of 732 adults and children (>3 years old) from visitors to 22 health centers across the archipelago. Urine was collected and analyzed by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry to determine metal concentrations. A face-to-face interview was conducted to document sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle and dietary habits, and residence-mine distance. Environmental samples (soil, house dust, water, and foodstuffs) were collected from two areas (one with and one without mining activity) to delineate determinants of exposure in more detail. Nickel and chromium were metals with the highest concentrations found in urine, especially in children, at levels exceeding reference values derived from representative national surveys elsewhere throughout the world (for children: 4.7 μg/g creatinine for nickel and 0.50 μg/g creatinine for chromium): 13% of children exceeded the reference value for nickel and 90% for chromium. Large variations were observed by region, age, and sex. In this geological setting, urinary and environmental nickel concentrations appear to be driven mainly by soil content. This is the first archipelago-wide survey of metal exposure in New Caledonia. The potential health consequences of this chronic high exposure need to be assessed.

KEYWORDS:

Biomonitoring; Chromium; Cobalt; Manganese; New Caledonia; Nickel

PMID:
29864722
DOI:
10.1016/j.envint.2018.05.045
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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