Characterization of urinary concentrations of heavy metals among socioeconomically disadvantaged black pregnant women

Environ Monit Assess. 2020 Feb 27;192(3):200. doi: 10.1007/s10661-020-8163-z.


The objective of this study was to characterize exposures to metals using biological samples collected on socioeconomically disadvantaged black pregnant women. We obtained 131 anonymous urine samples provided by black pregnant women visiting a Medicaid-serving prenatal clinic in Houston, TX, from March 27, 2017 to April 11, 2017. We analyzed urine samples for 15 metals including cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), and nickel (Ni) and for creatinine and cotinine. We found that median concentrations of zinc (Zn), selenium (Se), and aluminum (Al) among black pregnant women in this study were 1.5 to 3 times higher than levels reported among a cohort of well-educated non-Hispanic white pregnancy planners. We also observed elevated levels of urinary Cd and antimony (Sb) as compared with those reported for a nationally representative sample of adult women in the USA. Based on the results of an exploratory factor analysis, potential sources of metal exposures in this population may arise in home environments or be due to diet, industrial and natural sources, or traffic.

Keywords: Cotinine; Metal exposure; Pregnant women; Socioeconomically disadvantaged; Urine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Cadmium / urine
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy* / urine
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Texas
  • Vulnerable Populations*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Cadmium
  • Arsenic