Superfund Research Program
Trace Elements Analysis Core
The Dartmouth College Trace Element Analysis Core (TEAC) provides analytical services and support to the Dartmouth SRP Center projects. One way of assessing human exposure to toxic trace elements is through analysis of biomarkers such as urine, blood, or nails. In the last year, six publications using data generated by TEAC have been published that illustrate the use of nails as a biomarker. Nails are an effective indicator of manganese exposure through drinking water (Signes-Pastor et al., 2018). The mercury (Hg) concentrations of nails were associated with risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (Andrew et al., 2018). In utero exposure to lead (Pb) may be associated with early life increases in blood pressure in children (Farzan et al., 2018). Toenail and urinary cadmium (Cd) reflected major exposure (i.e., smoking), but Cd in the two biomarkers were not related, suggesting they represent different windows of exposure for pregnant women (White et al., 2018). Nail metals levels from 221 individuals collected at two time points were correlated, but decreased over time (O'Brien et al., 2019a), while toenail metal levels did not correlate with early-onset breast cancer (O'Brien et al., 2019b). Another focus of the Dartmouth Center research is the importance of food as an exposure route for toxic metals. The TEAC has worked with the Arsenic Uptake, Transport and Storage in Plants Project to image the distribution of Cd and As in rice grains using laser ablation-ICP-MS. The TEAC found that, like Hg, Cd was also located in the endosperm, which is the most-commonly consumed part of the rice grain.