Publications Repository - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

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Human exposure to uranium in South African gold mining areas using barber-based hair sampling
Winde, F.; Geipel, G.; Espina, C.; Schüz, J.;
Uranium (U) measurements in water, soil, and food related to gold mining activities in populated areas in Gauteng Province, South Africa, suggest the possibility of exposure levels that may lead to adverse health consequences, including cancer. Theoretical considerations on pathways of human uptake of significant exposures are plausible, but few data on directly measured human exposure are available. A cross-sectional study was conducted using human measurements to compare U levels with other settings around the globe (based on literature review), to explore potential exposure variability within the province, and to test the feasibility of recruiting subjects partially coming from vulnerable and difficult-to-reach populations. Wards of potentially high (HE) and low exposure (LE) were identified. Composite hair samples representing the respective local populations were collected from regular customers of selected barber shops over a period of 1–2 months. A total of 70 U concentrations were determined in 27 composite samples from 1332 individuals. U concentrations ranged from 31 μg/kg to 2524 μg/kg, with an arithmetic mean of 192 μg/kg (standard deviation, 310 μg/kg) and a median of 122 μg/kg. Although HE wards collectively showed higher U levels than LE wards (184 vs 134 μg/kg), differences were smaller than expected. In conclusion, detected U levels were higher than those from most other surveys of the general public. The barber-based approach was an efficient hair collection approach. Composite hair samples are not recommended, due to technical challenges in measuring U, and individual hair samples are needed in follow-up studies to determine predictors of exposure.

Publ.-Id: 29520 - Permalink