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Heavy Metals Levels in Adolescents
In the Milazzo-Valle del Mela area, the presence of industrial plants and the oil refinery make local residents concerned for their health. For this reason, we evaluated the levels of heavy metals in 226 children aged 12–14 years, living in the 7 municipalities of the area. A control age-matched population (n = 29) living 45 km far from the industrial site was also enrolled. Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, nickel, and vanadium were analysed in 24 h urine samples, while lead concentration was evaluated in blood samples. A questionnaire regarding life style and risk perception was also administered. Adolescents from Milazzo-Valle del Mela had cadmium levels significantly higher compared to either controls (P < 0.0001) or the reference values of the European Germany Environmental Survey (GerES-IV) and the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Furthermore, children had higher perception of living in a high-risk environment. The present data, for the first time, clearly indicate that adolescents living in Milazzo-Valle del Mela have increased body concentration of cadmium, which may be harmful to human health. These results deserve particular attention by the local and regional government to initiate prevention programmes in this susceptible population.
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