Pollutants in your body related to personal wealth

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  • Published: Aug 5, 2013
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Chemometrics & Informatics / Atomic / NMR Knowledge Base / Base Peak / Proteomics / Infrared Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Raman / MRI Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Pollutants in your body related to personal wealth

The kinds of pollutants that accumulate in your body are related to your wealth, or, more exactly, to your socioeconomic status (SES). These are the conclusions of scientists at the University of Exeter, UK, who correlated the levels of 179 human toxicants with SES, using the poverty income ratio as a measure. The toxicology data were taken from five waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) carried out by the CDC in the USA.

Writing in Environment International, lead scientist Jessica Tyrrell explained how she and her colleagues used statistical analyses to examine the data and link it to PIR. A total of 18 chemicals were found to be associated with PIR but the results were not what they expected. It had been generally believed that people of lower SES would have higher levels of chemicals in their bodies, but this was not the case. Chemicals built up in people across all levels of SES, but the type of chemical varied. Different types of chemicals were associated with poorer or richer people.

For instance, rich people had higher levels of compounds found in sunscreen, like benzophenone-3. The diet was also a factor. Increased levels of mercury, arsenic and perfluorononanoic acid were linked to higher consumption of fish and shellfish, where these compounds are known to accumulate.

Poorer folk had higher amounts of lead due to their tendency to have industrial occupations. Increased cadmium in lower SES people was attributed to cigarette smoking, diet and occupation.

So, programs which look at the burden of pollutants in humans should not simply concentrate on poorer people. The results suggest that "Efforts to reduce exposure inequalities need to be group specific, and that public health messages may be targeted more effectively," concluded Tyrrell.

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