Blood cadmium, mercury, and lead in children: An international comparison of cities in six European countries, and China, Ecuador, and Morocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Children's blood-lead concentration (B-Pb) is well studied, but little is known about cadmium (B-Cd) and mercury (B-Hg), in particular for central Europe. Such information is necessary for risk assessment and management. Therefore, we here describe and compare B-Pb, B-Cd and B-Hg in children in six European, and three non-European cities, and identify determinants of these exposures. About 50 school children (7-14 years) from each city were recruited (totally 433) in 2007-2008. Interview and questionnaire data were obtained. A blood sample was analyzed: only two laboratories with strict quality control were used. The European cities showed only minor differences for B-Cd (geometric means 0.11-0.17 mu g/L) and B-Pb (14-20 mu g/L), but larger for B-Hg (0.12-0.94 mu g/L). Corresponding means for the non-European countries were 0.21-0.26, 32-71, and 0.3-3.2 mu g/L, respectively. For B-Cd in European samples, traffic intensity close to home was a statistically significant determinant, for B-Hg fish consumption and amalgam fillings, and for B-Pb sex (boys higher). This study shows that European city children's B-Cd and B-Pb vary only little between countries; B-Hg differs considerably, due to varying tooth restoration practices and fish intake. Traffic intensity seemed to be a determinant for B-Cd. The metal concentrations were low from a risk perspective but the chosen non-European cities showed higher concentrations than the cities in Europe. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Frantiska Hruba
  • Ulf Strömberg
  • Milena Cerna
  • Chunying Chen
  • Florencia Harari
  • Raul Harari
  • Milena Horvat
  • Kvetoslava Koppova
  • Andreja Kos
  • Andrea Krskova
  • Mladen Krsnik
  • Jawhar Laamech
  • Yu-Feng Li
  • Lina Löfmark
  • Nils-Goran Lundstrom
  • Badiaa Lyoussi
  • Darja Mazej
  • Josko Osredkar
  • Krystyna Pawlas
  • Natalia Pawlas
  • Adam Prokopowicz
  • Gerda Rentschler
  • Vera Spevackova
  • Zdravko Spiric
  • Janja Tratnik
  • Staffan Skerfving
  • Ingvar A. Bergdahl
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • Biomonitoring, Exposure, Children, Lead, Mercury, Cadmium
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-34
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch