Heavy metals in children's blood from the rural region of Popokabaka, Democratic Republic of Congo: a cross-sectional study and spatial analysis
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonScientific Reports. 2022, 12, 18576. 10.1038/s41598-022-23332-4
Exposure to heavy metals can affect cell differentiation, neurocognitive development, and growth during early life, even in low doses. Little is known about heavy metal exposure and its relationship with nutrition outcomes in non-mining rural environments. We carried out a community-based cross-sectional study to describe the distribution of four heavy metal concentrations [arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and mercury (Hg)] in the serum of a representative population of children aged 12 to 59 months old from the rural region of Popokabaka, Democratic Republic of Congo. The four metals were measured in 412 samples using inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP–MS). Limits of detection (LoD) and quantification (LoQ) were set. Percentiles were reported. Statistical and geospatial bivariate analyses were performed to identify relationships with other nutrition outcomes. Arsenic was quantified in 59.7%, while Cd, Hg, and Pb were quantified in less than 10%, all without toxicities. The arsenic level was negatively associated with the zinc level, while the Hg level was positively associated with the selenium level. This common detection of As in children of Popokabaka requires attention, and urgent drinking water exploration and intervention for the profit of the Popokabaka community should be considered.