Urinary levels of 30 metal/metalloids in the Brazilian southeast population: Findings from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil)

Environ Res. 2023 May 15:225:115624. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.115624. Epub 2023 Mar 5.


The assessment of risks associated with environmental exposure to metals/metalloids requires well-established reference values for each population since it varies considerably according to distinct local/regional characteristics. However, very few studies establish baseline values for these elements (essential and toxic) in large population groups, especially in Latin American countries. This study was aimed at establishing urinary reference levels of 30 metals/metalloids: aluminum (Al), antimony (Sb), arsenic (As), barium (Ba), beryllium (Be), cadmium (Cd), cerium (Ce), cesium (Cs), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), lanthanum (La), lead (Pb), lithium (Li), strontium (Sr), manganese (Mn), mercury (Hg), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), platinum (Pt), rubidium (Rb), selenium (Se), silver (Ag), tin (Sn), tellurium (Te), thallium (Tl), thorium (Th), tungsten (W), uranium (U) and zinc (Zn) in a Brazilian southeast adult population. This pilot study is a cross-sectional analysis conducted with the first wave of the ELSA-Brasil cohort (baseline examination). A total of 996 adults (45.5% men, N = 453, mean age: 50.5, and 54.5% women, N = 543, mean age: 50.6) were included in the study. Sample analyses were performed by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Percentiles (2.5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 95 (CI95%), and 97.5) of each element (μg/g of creatinine) in the study are presented according to sex. Moreover, differences in the mean metal/metalloid urinary levels according to age, education, smoking, and alcohol intake are also presented. Finally, median found values were compared to established values of large human biomonitoring surveys previously conducted in North America and France. This is the first comprehensive and systematic human biomonitoring study that established population reference ranges for 30 (essential and/or toxic elements) in a Brazilian population group.

Keywords: Cohort; ELSA-Brasil; Human biomonitoring; Metals; Reference levels; Trace elements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brazil
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mercury* / analysis
  • Metalloids* / analysis
  • Metals
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Trace Elements* / analysis


  • Metalloids
  • Metals
  • Mercury
  • Trace Elements