Neurobehavioral function and low-level metal exposure in adolescents
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
International journal of hygiene and environmental health. - München
, p. 139-146
University of Antwerp
An excessive metal exposure is harmful to the brain. However, many aspects of metal neurotoxicity remain unclear including the magnitude of the low-level exposure effects and the level of exposure that can be assumed safe. The aim of our study was to investigate the association between a low-level metal exposure and three neurobehavioral domains (sustained attention, short-term memory, and manual motor speed). We measured Cd, Cu, Mn, Pb, and Tl in blood, Cd, Ni, and toxicologically relevant As in urine and methyl Hg in hair in 606 adolescents between 13.6 and 17 years of age. A two-fold increase in blood Cu was associated with a 0.37 standard deviations decrease in sustained attention (95% CI: -0.67 to -0.07, p = 0.02) and 0.39 standard deviations decrease in short-term memory (95% CI: -0.70 to -0.07, p = 0.02), accounting for gender, age, smoking, passive smoking, household income per capita, occupation of the parents, and education level of the mother. None of the other metals was significantly associated with the neurobehavioral domains that were measured. The observed associations between blood Cu and neurobehavioral performance are in line with recent studies in elderly. However, the relevance of our results for public health remains to be elucidated. (C) 2014 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.