Original Article

Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2016) 26, 510–519; doi:10.1038/jes.2015.76; published online 9 December 2015

Associations between metals in residential environmental media and exposure biomarkers over time in infants living near a mining-impacted site

Ami R Zota1, Anne M Riederer1, Adrienne S Ettinger2, Laurel A Schaider3, James P Shine3, Chitra J Amarasiriwardena4, Robert O Wright3,4 and John D Spengler3

  1. 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University, Milken Institute School of Public Health, Washington District of Columbia, USA
  2. 2Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  3. 3Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Department of Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York USA

Correspondence: Dr. Ami R Zota, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University, Milken Institute School of Public Health, 950 New Hampshire Avenue, Suite 414, Washington, DC 20052, USA. Tel.: +1 202 994 9289. Fax: +1 202 994 0082. E-mail: azota@gwu.edu

Received 6 May 2015; Revised 3 September 2015; Accepted 8 October 2015
Advance online publication 9 December 2015



Infant exposures to metals are a concern for mining-impacted communities, although limited information is available to assess residential exposures over the first year of life. We measured lead (Pb), manganese, arsenic, and cadmium in indoor air, house dust, yard soil, and tap water from 53 infants’ homes near the Tar Creek Superfund Site (Oklahoma, USA) at two time points representing developmental stages before and during initial ambulation (age 0–6 and 6–12 months). We measured infant metal biomarkers in: umbilical cord blood (n=53); 12- (n=43) and 24- (n=22) month blood; and hair at age 12 months (n=39). We evaluated cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between infant residential and biomarker concentrations. A doubling of mean dust Pb concentration was consistently associated with 36–49% higher 12-month blood Pb adjusting for cord blood Pb (Pless than or equal to0.05). Adjusted dust concentration explained 29–35% of blood Pb variance, and consistent associations with other media were not observed. Although concentrations in dust and blood were generally low, strong and consistent associations between dust and body burden suggest that house dust in mining-impacted communities may impact children’s health. These relationships were observed at a young age, typically before blood Pb levels peak and when children’s development may be particularly vulnerable to toxic insult.


children; exposure; home environment; infants; lead; metals; mining; Superfund