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Sci Total Environ. 2019 Aug 6;695:133791. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133791. [Epub ahead of print]

Exposure to toxic metals and polychlorinated biphenyls of adolescents and adults from two atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago (French Polynesia).

Author information

1
Axe Santé des Populations et Pratiques Optimales en Santé, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, 1050 chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, QC G1S 4L8, Canada.
2
Institut Louis Malardé (ILM), BP 30 98713, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia.
3
Axe Santé des Populations et Pratiques Optimales en Santé, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, 1050 chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, QC G1S 4L8, Canada; Institut de Recherche en Santé, Environnement, Travail (IRSET) - INSERM UMR 1085, Université de Rennes 1, 9 avenue du Professeur Léon Bernard, 35 000 Rennes, France.
4
Axe Santé des Populations et Pratiques Optimales en Santé, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, 1050 chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, QC G1S 4L8, Canada; Département de Médecine Préventive et Sociale, Université Laval, Pavillon Ferdinand-Vandry, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada.
5
Axe Santé des Populations et Pratiques Optimales en Santé, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, 1050 chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, QC G1S 4L8, Canada; Département de Médecine Préventive et Sociale, Université Laval, Pavillon Ferdinand-Vandry, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada; Centre de toxicologie du Québec, Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ), 945 avenue Wolfe, Québec, QC G1V 5B3, Canada. Electronic address: pierre.ayotte@inspq.qc.ca.

Abstract

The atoll of Hao, part of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia, hosted an air base which was used by France Air Force and Naval Aviation during the nuclear tests. Following the publication of a report in 2012 indicating widespread contamination of the atoll, we conducted a biomonitoring survey to assess the exposure to toxic metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) of Hao residents and residents of Makemo, a nearby atoll without any known sources of industrial pollution. Adults and adolescents (≥12 years) randomly sampled from Hao (n = 275) and Makemo (n = 268) provided blood samples for contaminant analyses. Whole blood samples were analysed for cadmium, lead and total mercury by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Plasma concentrations of PCBs were measured by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Face-to-face interviews were conducted to document lifestyle and a food-frequency questionnaire was used to document dietary habits. Concentrations of contaminants were compared between atolls and associations with sociodemographic and personal characteristics of the participants were investigated. A significantly higher mean (geometric) of blood lead concentration was observed in Hao compared to Makemo (3.75 vs 3.40 μg/L, P = 0.02), whereas similar concentrations were noted for cadmium (0.49 vs 0.50 μg/L, P = 0.58) and mercury (11.4 vs 11.5 μg/L, P = 0.78). Mean total PCBs plasma concentration was significantly higher in Hao than in Makemo participants (0.75 vs 0.32 μg/L, P < 0.001). A significant proportion of participants exceeded toxicological reference values for mercury and lead in both atolls. The higher body burden of PCBs and Pb in Hao compared to Makemo residents may be linked to past air base activities in Hao. According to international standards, PCBs exposure is low; however, exposure to both mercury and lead is high and further investigations are required to identify specific sources of exposure.

KEYWORDS:

Cadmium; French Polynesia; Lead; Mercury; Polychlorinated biphenyls

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