Trace element reference values in tissues from inhabitants of the European Community. II. Examples of strategy adopted and trace element analysis of blood, lymph nodes and cerebrospinal fluid of Italian subjects

Sci Total Environ. 1992 Jun 9;120(1-2):39-61. doi: 10.1016/0048-9697(92)90215-e.


The EURO TERVIHT (Trace Element Reference Values in Human Tissues), recently initiated, aims to establish and compare trace metal reference values in inhabitants from the different EC countries. The project anticipates international cooperation of specialized chemical and toxicological laboratories in Western Europe. In order to overcome the well known and intolerable high fluctuation in published trace metal concentrations in body fluids and tissues, which are mostly due to poor analysis, this paper gives recommendations and strategies for approaching 'background' values measurement practised in the EURO TERVIHT. The focus of the paper is more on quality rather than on quantity of data with particular aspects: (i) well-described protocol for the selection/composition of reference groups (extended epidemiological data plus clinical status); (ii) numerous pre-analytical factors, among which are of paramount importance are ultraclean laboratory air, container material, storage conditions at -20 degrees C; (iii) statistical treatment of the data and the expression of the analytical results (use of refined statistical analysis such as the Lilliefors test to define the type of distribution, normal or log-normal). Results reported here concern the determination of trace elements in whole blood of more than 350 Italian subjects which allowed the proposal of 'reference values' for 12 elements. In lymph nodes and cerebrospinal (CSF) the degree of information acquired is only sufficient to suggest 'indicative' of 'informative' values.

MeSH terms

  • Computers
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Europe
  • European Union
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Lymph Nodes / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Reference Values
  • Trace Elements / analysis*
  • Trace Elements / blood
  • Trace Elements / cerebrospinal fluid


  • Trace Elements