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Toxics. 2020 Feb 11;8(1). pii: E11. doi: 10.3390/toxics8010011.

Biomonitoring of Trace Elements in Subjects Living Near a Hazardous Waste Incinerator: Concentrations in Autopsy Tissues.

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Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, IISPV, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Sant Llorenç 21, 43201 Reus, Catalonia, Spain.
Institut de Medicina Legal i Ciències Forenses, Divisió de Tarragona, Rambla del President Lluís Companys 10, 43005 Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain.


The only hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) in Spain started to operate in 1999. Twenty years later, the levels of 11 trace elements (As, Be, Cd, Cr, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sn, Tl and V) were analyzed in five different autopsy tissues (kidney, liver, brain, bone and lung) from 20 individuals who had been living near the facility. In 2019, As, Be, Tl and V were not detected in any of the analyzed tissues, while Hg could be only quantified in very few samples. The highest levels of Cd and Pb were found in kidney and bone, respectively, while those of Mn were observed in liver and kidney. In turn, the mean concentrations of Cr and Sn were very similar in all tissues. A consistent temporal trend (1998-2019) was only found for Cr and Pb. On the one hand, the mean Cr concentrations in kidney and bone have increased progressively since 1998. In contrast, the mean levels of Pb decreased significantly over time, probably due to ban of Pb as gasoline additive. The data global analysis indicates that the emissions of trace elements by the HWI have not increased the exposure and/or accumulation of these elements in individuals living near the facility.


autopsy tissues; hazardous waste incinerator; temporal trends; trace elements

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