Fluoride Action Network



  • Toxic heavy metal exposure is higher in Colombo than CKDu affected rural districts.
  • Zn and Se levels in renal tissues are lower in residents of rural districts.
  • The study provides a baseline reference for trace element bioaccumulation in Sri Lanka.

Introduction: Environmental pollution, especially by toxic trace elements, is a global health concern. Heavy metals such as Cadmium (Cd), Arsenic (As) and Lead (Pb) are associated with numerous disorders and are considered by some as an aetiological factor for the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu1) epidemic in Sri Lanka. This study explores patterns of bioaccumulation of six trace elements in kidneys obtained during forensic autopsies from urban and rural regions in Sri Lanka.

Methods: Kidney samples obtained from one urban district (n = 13) and three rural districts (n = 18) were lyophilized, microwave digested and profiled by ICP-MS techniques.

Results and discussion: The mean age of the sampled population was 47.9 ± 11.3 yrs. Median (IQR) for Cd, As, Pb, Cr, Zn and Se were, 14.67(8.04-22.47) ug/g, 0.44(0.29-0.56) ug/g, 0.11(0.07-0.30) ug/g, 0.15(0.1096-0.3274), 25.55(17.24-39.35) ug/g and 0.52(0.37-0.84) ug/g, respectively. Cd, Zn and Se levels were significantly higher (p < 0.05) among the urban samples compared to that of the rural group. Zn and Se levels were higher among younger age groups. As, Pb and Cr did not show any significant differences between the two cohorts nor any correlations with age.

Conclusion: This population-specific baseline study provides an insight into the differences in exposure to toxic trace elements and essential elements between urban and rural populations. Residents in CKDu affected rural districts did not appear to be at risk of toxic heavy metal exposure, however their renal bioaccumulation of nephroprotective essential elements was lower than urban residents.

*Original abstract online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0946672X20301309?via%3Dihub

Note from Fluoride Action Network:
It is puzzling why the researchers did not take the opportunity to test for fluoride in this post mortem tissue analysis. (EC)