Metal Exposure in the Children of Punjab, India

Our test results documented that hair and urine mineral analysis results support each other. This is of interest, because hair analysis evaluates past exposure while urine analysis detects immediate exposure. We evaluated barium, cadmium, manganese, lead and uranium in hair and urine. Our test results indicate that all of the children show evidence of past and immediate exposure to one or more metals. Hair mineral test results for the 114 children aged 12 and younger showed some type of toxic metal exposure for each one of the children; 88% exceeded the uranium reference range for hair. This indicates past and chronic exposure. After renal evaluation, 55 children aged 3–12 years who passed certain criteria were selected for urine baseline testing. Urine baseline concentrations are a direct reflection of immediate exposure. Of the 55 children, 47 showed elevated urine concentrations for one or more of the toxins listed above, demonstrating immediate exposure. DMSA is recommended as an oral antidote for lead and other metals. We selected 55 children aged 3–12 for a DMSA (Dimercapto succinic acid) urine challenge test. Our results showed that 98% of this group showed lead concentrations above the baseline level, demonstrating lead binding and excretion. The DMSA challenge did not affect barium, cadmium, manganese and uranium, suggesting that for these elements, DMSA may not be the chelating agent of choice. In summary, hair and urine mineral testing demonstrated that chronic and immediate toxic exposure had affected our test group of Punjabi children. The DMSA challenge test was effective in detoxifying lead, but did not affect barium, cadmium, manganese or uranium.

E. Blaurock-Busch, Albrecht Friedle, Michael Godfrey, Claus E.E. Schulte-Uebbing and Carin Smit (Clinical Medicine Insights: Therapeutics 2010:2 655–661)