Assessing human metal accumulations in an urban superfund site

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017 Sep;54:112-119. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2017.06.001. Epub 2017 Jun 27.


Butte, Montana is part of the largest superfund site in the continental United States. Open-pit mining continues in close proximity to Butte's urban population. This study seeks to establish baseline metal concentrations in the hair and blood of individuals living in Butte, MT and possible routes of exposure. Volunteers from Butte (n=116) and Bozeman (n=86) were recruited to submit hair and blood samples and asked to complete a lifestyle survey. Elemental analysis of hair and blood samples was performed by ICP-MS. Three air monitors were stationed in Butte to collect particulate and filters were analyzed by ICP-MS. Soil samples from the yards of Butte volunteers were quantified by ICP-MS. Hair analysis revealed concentrations of Al, As, Cd, Cu, Mn, Mo, and U to be statistically elevated in Butte's population. Blood analysis revealed that the concentration of As was also statistically elevated in the Butte population. Multiple regression analysis was performed for the elements As, Cu, and Mn for hair and blood samples. Soil samples revealed detectable levels of As, Pb, Cu, Mn, and Cd, with As and Cu levels being higher than expected in some of the samples. Air sampling revealed consistently elevated As and Mn levels in the larger particulate sampled as compared to average U.S. ambient air data.

Keywords: Exposure assessment; Metal mixtures; Metals; Superfund.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Arsenic / blood
  • Cities
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry
  • Hazardous Waste Sites
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metals / analysis*
  • Metals / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Montana
  • Soil / chemistry


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Metals
  • Soil
  • Arsenic