Population-based dietary intakes and tap water concentrations for selected elements in the EPA region V National Human Exposure Assessment Survey (NHEXAS)

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. Sep-Oct 1999;9(5):402-13. doi: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500051.


A National Human Exposure Assessment Survey (NHEXAS) field study was performed in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region V, providing population-based exposure distribution data for selected elements in several personal, environmental, and biological media. Population distributions are reported for the 11 elements that were measured in water and dietary samples. Dietary intakes and home tap water concentrations of lead, arsenic, and cadmium were further examined for intermedia associations, for differences between dietary exposure for adults and children, and to estimate the proportion of the population above health-based reference values (dietary) or regulatory action levels or maximum contaminant levels (water). Water lead and arsenic concentrations were significantly associated with dietary intake. Intake of all elements was higher from solid foods than from liquid foods (including drinking water). Dietary intakes of Pb, As, and Cd were greater than those calculated for intake from home tap water or inhalation on a microg/day basis. Median dietary intakes for the Region V population for Pb, As, and Cd were 0.10, 0.13, and 0.19 microg/kg bw/day, respectively. While Pb, As, and Cd concentrations in the foods consumed by 0 to 6-year-old children were similar to or lower than those for adults, dietary intakes calculated on a body weight basis were 1.5 to 2.5 times higher for young children. Intrapersonal intake differences accounted for most of the variance in short-term (daily) dietary intakes for Pb and As, while interpersonal differences accounted for more of the intake variance for Cd. Only small percentages of the population exceeded health-based intake reference values or concentrations equal to regulatory levels in water for Pb, As, and Cd.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arsenic / analysis
  • Cadmium / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Elements*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Great Lakes Region
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis
  • Lead / analysis
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Elements
  • Water Pollutants
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Arsenic