Investigating relationships between biomarkers of exposure and environmental copper and manganese levels in house dusts from a Portuguese industrial city


This study reports on data obtained from a pilot survey focusing on house dust and toenail metal(loids) concentrations in residents living in the industrial city of Estarreja. The study design hereby described aims at investigating relationships between human toenails and both copper and manganese levels in settled house dusts. A total of 21 households and 30 individuals were recruited for the pilot study: 19 households corresponding to 27 residents living near the industrial complex, forming the exposed group, plus 2 households and 3 residents from residential areas with no anticipated environmental contaminants that were used for comparison. Factorial analysis was used for source identification purposes. Investigation on the potential influence of environmental factors over copper and manganese levels in the toenails was carried out via questionnaire data and multiple correspondence analysis. The results show that copper concentrations are more elevated in the indoor dusts, while manganese concentrations are more elevated in the outdoor dust samples. The geometrical relationships in the datasets suggest that the backyard soil is a probable source of manganese to the indoor dust. Copper and manganese contents in the toenail clippings are more elevated in children than in adults, but the difference between the two age groups is not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Investigation of environmental factors influencing the exposure-biomarker association indicates a probable relationship between manganese contents in indoor dust and manganese levels in toenail clippings, a result that is partially supported by the bioaccessibility estimates. However, for copper, no relationship was found between indoor dusts and the biomarkers of exposure.



subject category

Engineering; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; Public, Environmental & Occupational Health; Water Resources


Reis, AP; Costa, S; Santos, I; Patinha, C; Noack, Y; Wragg, J; Cave, M; Sousa, AJ

our authors



Funding for this research was provided by the Labex DRIIHM, Reseau des Observatoires Hommes-Millieux-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (ROHM-CNRS) and OHM.I-Estarreja. We thank the participants for taking part in this research and the local authorities of Estarreja for the collaboration. A special thanks to the reviewers for their comments that significantly improved this paper. We acknowledge to the Foundation for Science and the Technology (FCT) the support to the Project PEst-C/CTE/UI4035/2011.

Share this project:

Related Publications

We use cookies for marketing activities and to offer you a better experience. By clicking “Accept Cookies” you agree with our cookie policy. Read about how we use cookies by clicking "Privacy and Cookie Policy".