The association between active/passive smoking and toxic metals among pregnant women in Greece

Xenobiotica. 2011 Jun;41(6):456-63. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2011.559294. Epub 2011 Mar 7.


Exposure to toxic metals during pregnancy may have detrimental effects on foetal development. We assessed the role of sociodemographic characteristics and active and passive smoking on blood concentrations of metals (As, Cd, Pb, Hg, Sb, U, Mn and Mo). Venous blood drawn from 50 pregnant women, randomly selected from the mother-child birth cohort 'Rhea'. Extensive questionnaire data on active and passive smoking were collected. Urinary cotinine was measured to validate self-reported exposure and non-smoking status. Smokers had higher concentrations of Cd (1.0 µg/L) as compared with non-smokers (0.29 µg/L, P < 0.001) and a tendency for higher As and Hg. Among non-smokers, blood As and Hg concentrations were also associated with exposure to passive smoking in public venues and the family home and to overall greater secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure (As: 0.97µg/L among heavy-exposed compared with 0.20 µg/L among the low-exposed, P < 0.05; Hg: 2.1 µg/L vs. 0.9 µg/L respectively, P < 0.05). Controlling for fish and seafood intake altered the statistical significance but not the direction of the above associations. Smoking was associated with higher Cd concentrations in pregnant women, although the association between passive smoking and elevated As and Hg concentrations was indicative, however inconclusive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Hazardous Substances / blood*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Metals / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking / blood
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / urine
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data*


  • Hazardous Substances
  • Metals
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Cotinine