John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Element profiles in hair and nails of children reflect the uptake from food and the environment

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The present study evaluated if the element profiles in hair and nails of children from the Lake Victoria region in Kenya reflect uptake from food and the environment. To this purpose, the element concentrations in hair and nails were related to element concentrations measured in food items, water, and soil. The highest intake of most elements occurred via ingestion of the fish Rastrineobola argentea, which is consumed in higher quantities than other fish and food items. Element concentrations in hair and nails were correlated to food and soil in element‐specific patterns. Multivariate analysis combining principal component analysis and multidimensional scaling enabled us to cluster individuals from specific sites and to relate differences between sites to food‐consumption patterns and environmental exposures. Site‐specific differences in macroelement concentrations among the children were attributed to patterns of food consumption, while those in microelement concentrations reflected differences in geochemical background. It is concluded that the simultaneous analysis of elements in human hair and nails allows separation of populations based on food consumption and geochemical background. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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