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Environmental and Workplace Health

Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada

8. Results by Chemical Group

Contents

8.1 Metals and Trace Elements

8.1.1 Antimony (CASRN 7440-36-0)

Antimony (Sb) is a naturally occurring element that comprises a small fraction of the Earth's crust. It is classified as a metalloid, exhibiting both metallic and non-metallic characteristics. It can exist as an uncombined metal as well as in various oxidation states (-3, 0, +3, +5) and forms (ATSDR, 1992).

Antimony is released into the environment primarily through industrial processes. It may enter the aquatic environment by way of effluents from mining and manufacturing operations, as well as through industrial and municipal leachate discharges, and it is released into the air as stack dust from industrial sources, such as coal-fired power plants, inorganic chemical plants, and metal smelters (Health Canada, 1997). However, it is also found in the environment naturally due to natural weathering of rocks, runoff from soils, emissions from volcanic eruptions, sea spray, and forest fires. Antimony can be obtained from mining or produced from smelting and refining of scrap metals (ATSDR, 1992; Health Canada, 1997). Antimony is used in the production of semi-conductors, infrared detectors, and diodes; as a component in alloys for batteries, cable sheathing, plumbing solder, ammunition and fireworks, flame retardant and anti-friction materials; and as an additive in paint pigments, glass, and ceramic products (Health Canada, 1997; NTP, 2005; ATSDR, 1992). Some forms of antimony are used in pharmaceutical products or to induce vomiting following poisonings (WHO, 2003).

Canadians are exposed to antimony mainly from ingestion of food but also to some extent from water, air, dust, or direct dermal contact with consumer products containing antimony (EURAR, 2008). Concentrations of antimony in meat, freshwater fish, poultry, cereals, fruit, and vegetables appear to range from about 1 to 10 ng/g wet weight; significantly higher levels have been measured in marine organisms (Health Canada, 1997). However, the amount of antimony present in the body is generally low for those not exposed occupationally. Antimony is most commonly measured in blood and urine and this measurement is reflective of exposure to antimony and antimony-related compounds, such as antimony oxide (ATSDR, 1992). An elimination half-life of approximately 95 hours has been estimated after occupational exposures (Kentner et al., 1995). The absorption, distribution, and excretion of antimony depend on both the route of administration and its oxidation state. After inhalation, tissue distribution studies show that the trivalent form accumulates more rapidly than the pentavalent form in the liver, whereas pentavalent antimony is found preferentially in the skeleton. Following ingestion in animals, liver, kidney, bone, lung, spleen, and thyroid are the major sites of accumulation outside the gastrointestinal tract (Health Canada, 1997). In humans, urine accounts for 1.2-3.6 µg of daily antimony excretion. Approximately 0.3-0.9 µg per day (µg/day) is excreted in feces, and less than 1 µg/day is excreted by other routes (Health Canada, 1997). Pentavalent antimony tends to be more readily excreted in the urine than the trivalent form (Elinder & Friberg, 1986).

The low levels of antimony to which the general population is exposed are not expected to cause any adverse health effects (ATSDR, 1992). Chronic occupational exposure to lower doses of antimony compounds is primarily associated with myocardial effects (Health Canada, 1997). Chronic occupational exposure to antimony via inhalation causes damage to the lungs, known as "antimony pneumoconiosis," involving airway obstruction, bronchospasm, and hyperinflation, as well as respiratory irritation and interstitial inflammation. These effects are believed to be primarily due to physiological responses to antimony dust accumulating within the respiratory tract (ATSDR, 1992).

Health Canada and Environment Canada are jointly reviewing and assessing chemical substances as part of the Chemicals Management Plan under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. Antimony oxide (CAS 1309-64-4) was identified as a high-priority substance under the Chemicals Management Plan, and a draft screening assessment was published in March 2010 (Government of Canada, 2009; Environment Canada and Health Canada, 2010). The proposed conclusion of the Government of Canada's draft screening assessment is that antimony oxide is not of concern to the environment or to human health at current levels of exposure (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 2010). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified antimony trioxide as Group 2B (a possible human carcinogen) and antimony trisulphide as Group 3 (not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans) (IARC, 1999). The European Commission has classified antimony trioxide as a Category 3 carcinogenic substance (causes concern for humans owing to possible carcino­genic effects) with "limited evidence for a carcinogenic effect" (EURAR, 2008; ESIS, 2009).

Health Canada (1997) has established a tolerable daily intake of 0.2 µg/kg body weight/day for antimony. Chronic oral exposure to this dose is not expected to lead to significant adverse health effects. A Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Quality of 0.006 mg/L (6 µg/L) has been established, considering both toxicity and analytical capabilities (Health Canada, 1997).

In a study carried out in 2001 in the region of Québec City, on 500 participants aged 18-65, the 90th percentile value of antimony in urine was 0.28 µg/L. The geometric mean and 90th percentile values of antimony in blood were 5.40 µg/L and 6.22 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004).

Antimony was measured in the urine of all Canadian Health Measures Survey participants aged 6-79 years and is presented as µg/L urine and µg/g creatinine (Tables 8.1.1a, 8.1.1b). Finding a measurable amount of antimony in urine is an indicator of exposure to antimony or antimony-related compounds and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. These data provide reference ranges for urinary levels of antimony in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.1a
Antimony - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (µg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5492 22.40 0.08 0.04 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.08 0.13 0.18
0.06 - 0.09 0.04 - 0.05 0.02 - 0.03 0.05 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.12 - 0.14 0.17 - 0.20
6-11 1034 17.99 0.07 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.06 0.08 0.13 0.18
0.06 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.05 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.06 0.08 - 0.09 0.10 - 0.16 0.14 - 0.21
12-19 983 12.92 0.09 0.06 <LOD 0.04 0.07 0.10 0.15 0.20
0.07 - 0.11 0.05 - 0.07 0.03 - 0.04 0.06 - 0.07 0.09 - 0.11 0.13 - 0.17 0.17 - 0.23
20-39 1169 25.66 0.09 0.04 <LOD 0.02 0.05 0.08 0.13 0.19
0.05 - 0.12 0.04 - 0.05 <LOD - 0.03 0.04 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.09 0.11 - 0.15 0.15 - 0.23
40-59 1223 27.80 0.07 0.04 <LOD <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.14 0.18
0.05 - 0.09 0.04 - 0.04 0.04 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.12 - 0.15 0.16 - 0.21
60-79 1083 25.58 0.06 0.04 <LOD <LOD 0.04 0.07 0.11 0.14
0.05 - 0.06 0.04 - 0.04 0.04 - 0.04 0.06 - 0.07 0.10 - 0.12 0.12 - 0.16
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2662 15.63 0.09 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.06 0.09 0.14 0.20
0.08 - 0.10 0.05 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.03 0.05 - 0.06 0.08 - 0.10 0.13 - 0.16 0.17 - 0.22
6-11 524 14.12 0.08 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.06 0.09 0.14 0.18
0.06 - 0.09 0.04 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.06 0.07 - 0.10 0.09 - 0.19 0.13 - 0.23
12-19 505 8.51 0.10 0.07 0.03 0.04 0.07 0.10 0.16 0.21
0.07 - 0.14 0.06 - 0.07 0.02 - 0.03 0.04 - 0.05 0.06 - 0.08 0.09 - 0.12 0.13 - 0.19 0.14 - 0.27
20-39 514 18.68 0.08 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.09 0.14 0.20
0.07 - 0.10 0.04 - 0.06 0.02 - 0.03 0.05 - 0.06 0.08 - 0.11 0.11 - 0.18 0.15 - 0.25
40-59 578 18.34 0.10 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.09 0.15 0.21
0.06 - 0.14 0.05 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.06 0.08 - 0.10 0.13 - 0.18 0.15 - 0.26
60-79 541 17.93 0.07 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.08 0.12 0.16
0.06 - 0.08 0.04 - 0.05 0.03 - 0.03 0.04 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.09 0.11 - 0.13 0.12 - 0.20
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2830 28.76 0.06 0.04 <LOD <LOD 0.04 0.07 0.11 0.17
0.04 - 0.08 0.03 - 0.04 0.04 - 0.04 0.06 - 0.07 0.10 - 0.13 0.14 - 0.19
6-11 510 21.96 0.06 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.08 0.12 0.17
0.06 - 0.07 0.04 - 0.05 0.02 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.06 0.07 - 0.09 0.11 - 0.13 0.13 - 0.21
12-19 478 17.57 0.07 0.05 <LOD 0.04 0.06 0.09 0.15 0.20
0.06 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.04 0.06 - 0.07 0.08 - 0.11 0.12 - 0.18 0.15 - 0.24
20-39 655 31.15 0.09 0.04 <LOD <LOD 0.04 0.07 0.11 0.18
0.02 - 0.15 0.04 - 0.04 0.04 - 0.05 0.06 - 0.08 0.09 - 0.13 0.11 - 0.26
40-59 645 36.28 0.05 0.03 <LOD <LOD 0.03 0.06 0.11 0.15
0.04 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.04 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.07 0.08 - 0.14 0.13 - 0.18
60-79 542 33.21 0.04 0.03 <LOD <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.09 0.12
0.04 - 0.05 0.03 - 0.03 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.06 0.08 - 0.11 0.10 - 0.14
Table 8.1.1b
Antimony (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (µg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5479 22.45 0.08 0.05 <LOD 0.04 0.05 0.07 0.12 0.16
0.07 - 0.09 0.05 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.13 0.14 - 0.18
6-11 1031 18.04 0.09 0.08 <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.11 0.15 0.22
0.09 - 0.10 0.07 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.12 0.13 - 0.18 0.16 - 0.28
12-19 982 12.93 0.07 0.05 <LOD 0.04 0.05 0.07 0.10 0.12
0.05 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.05 0.06 - 0.08 0.09 - 0.11 0.10 - 0.15
20-39 1165 25.75 0.08 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.07 0.12 0.17
0.05 - 0.11 0.05 - 0.05 <LOD - 0.03 0.05 - 0.05 0.06 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.13 0.13 - 0.20
40-59 1218 27.91 0.08 0.05 <LOD <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.12 0.17
0.06 - 0.09 0.05 - 0.06 0.05 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.15 0.15 - 0.19
60-79 1083 25.58 0.07 0.05 <LOD <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.11 0.14
0.06 - 0.07 0.05 - 0.06 0.05 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.12 0.13 - 0.16
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2653 15.68 0.08 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.07 0.11 0.16
0.07 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.05 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.13 0.13 - 0.19
6-11 522 14.18 0.10 0.08 <LOD 0.05 0.08 0.11 0.16 0.24
0.09 - 0.11 0.08 - 0.09 0.05 - 0.06 0.07 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.12 0.12 - 0.20 0.11 - 0.36
12-19 504 8.53 0.07 0.06 0.03 0.04 0.06 0.07 0.10 0.12
0.05 - 0.10 0.05 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.03 0.04 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.06 0.07 - 0.08 0.08 - 0.11 0.10 - 0.15
20-39 512 18.75 0.07 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.04 0.07 0.12 0.16
0.06 - 0.07 0.04 - 0.05 0.03 - 0.03 0.04 - 0.05 0.06 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.13 0.12 - 0.21
40-59 574 18.47 0.08 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.07 0.10 0.16
0.05 - 0.11 0.05 - 0.06 0.03 - 0.04 0.05 - 0.06 0.06 - 0.08 0.08 - 0.13 0.11 - 0.21
60-79 541 17.93 0.06 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.07 0.10 0.14
0.06 - 0.07 0.05 - 0.05 0.03 - 0.04 0.04 - 0.05 0.06 - 0.07 0.09 - 0.12 0.11 - 0.16
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2826 28.80 0.08 0.06 <LOD <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.12 0.17
0.06 - 0.10 0.05 - 0.06 0.05 - 0.06 0.07 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.14 0.14 - 0.20
6-11 509 22.00 0.09 0.07 <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.10 0.14 0.19
0.08 - 0.10 0.07 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.06 0.07 - 0.07 0.08 - 0.11 0.12 - 0.17 0.15 - 0.23
12-19 478 17.57 0.06 0.05 <LOD 0.03 0.05 0.06 0.09 0.12
0.05 - 0.07 0.04 - 0.05 0.03 - 0.04 0.04 - 0.05 0.05 - 0.07 0.08 - 0.11 0.05 - 0.19
20-39 653 31.24 0.09 0.05 <LOD <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.11 0.17
0.04 - 0.14 0.05 - 0.06 0.05 - 0.05 0.07 - 0.08 0.09 - 0.14 0.09 - 0.24
40-59 644 36.34 0.07 0.06 <LOD <LOD 0.05 0.07 0.13 0.17
0.06 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.06 0.05 - 0.06 0.06 - 0.08 0.11 - 0.16 0.14 - 0.20
60-79 542 33.21 0.07 0.06 <LOD <LOD 0.06 0.08 0.11 0.15
0.06 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.06 0.05 - 0.06 0.07 - 0.09 0.10 - 0.12 0.12 - 0.17
References
  • ATSDR (Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (1992). Toxicological Profile for Antimony. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • Elinder, C.G., & Friberg, L. (1986). Antimony. In: L. Friberg, G.F. Nordberg, & V.B.Vouk, (Eds). Handbook on the toxicology of metals (2nd ed.) (pp. 26-42). New York: Elsevier.
  • Environment Canada & Health Canada. (2010). Draft Screening Assessment for the Challenge: Antimony Oxide. Retrieved July 23, 2010
  • ESIS (European Chemical Substances Information System). (2009). Diantimony trioxide CAS#: 1309-64-4. Retrieved February 17, 2010
  • EURAR (European Union Risk Assessment Report). (2008). Draft: CAS: 1309-64-4: Diantimony Trioxide. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Retrieved February 17, 2009
  • Government of Canada. (2009). Next link will take you to another Web site Chemical Substances Website, The Challenge. Retrieved December 17, 2009
  • Health Canada. (1997). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality - Supporting Document: Antimony. Water Quality and Health Bureau, Safe Environments Programme. Retrieved February 17, 2010
  • IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). (1999). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans - Volume 47: Some Organic Solvents, Resin Monomers and Related Compounds, Pigments and Occupational Exposures in Paint Manufacture and Painting. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation. World Health Organization.
  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • Kentner M., Leinemann M., Schaller, K.H., Weltle, D., & Lenert, G. (1995). External and internal antimony exposure in starter battery production. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 67, 119-23.
  • Next link will take you to another Web site NTP (National Toxicology Program). (2005). Antimony Trioxide: Brief Toxicological Summary. Retrieved February 17, 2010
  • WHO (World Health Organization). (2003). Next link will take you to another Web site Antimony in Drinking-water. Retrieved March 4, 2010

8.1.2 Arsenic (CASRN 7440-38-2)

Arsenic (As) is a naturally occurring element that comprises a small fraction of the Earth's crust (ATSDR, 2007). It is classified as a metalloid, exhibiting properties of both a metal and a non-metal. Arsenic has oxidation states of -3, 0, +3, and +5, and is commonly found as an inorganic sulphide complexed with other metals (CCME, 1997). Arsenic also forms stable organic compounds in its trivalent (+3) and pentavalent (+5) states.

The primary anthropogenic sources of arsenic released to the environment are the smelting of metal ores, the use of arsenical pesticides, and the burning of fossil fuels. Arsenic may enter lakes, rivers, or groundwater naturally, when mineral deposits or rocks containing arsenic dissolve. In Canada, gold ores are the primary anthropogenic source of arsenic (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1993). Arsenic is used in the manufacture of transistors, lasers, and semi-conductors, and in the processing of glass, pigments, textiles, paper, metal adhesives, ceramics, wood preservatives, ammunition, and explosives. Historical uses of arsenic include application of lead arsenate as a pesticide in apple orchards and vineyards, and arsenic trioxide as a herbicide (Health Canada, 2006; ATSDR, 2007). Chromated copper arsenate was formerly used as a wood preservative in residential construction projects such as playground structures and decks; however, it is now used only for industrial purposes and for domestic wood foundations (PMRA, 2005).

The public is exposed to arsenic in food, drinking water, soil, and ambient air, with food (particularly meat and fish) representing the major source of intake (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1993). Exposure may also arise from indoor house dust, as levels in dust can exceed levels in soil (Rasmussen et al., 2001). Although shellfish and marine species have been found to bioconcentrate arsenic, it is not biomagnified through the food chain (ATSDR, 2007). Exposure to arsenic may be elevated in populations residing in the vicinity of industrial and geological sources. Arsenic can be found in both surface water and groundwater sources, with levels generally higher in groundwater. Drinking water is considered to be the major source of exposure to arsenic only in populations living near a source of arsenic (either a natural geological source or a site of contamination). Smokers are also exposed to arsenic in cigarettes, although it is considered to be of minor importance for arsenic absorption (Schneider & Krivan, 1993).

Arsenic compounds are readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract (~45-90%) (Pomroy et al., 1980; Yamauchi et al., 1986). Following oral ingestion, inorganic arsenic appears rapidly in the circulation, where it binds primarily to hemoglobin. Within 24 hours, it is found mainly in the liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen, and skin. Skin, bone, and muscle represent the major storage sites. In cases of chronic exposure, arsenic will preferentially accumulate in tissues rich in keratin and/or sulfhydryl (thiol) groups, such as hair, nails, skin, and other protein-containing tissues (Human Biomonitoring Commission of the German Federal Environmental Agency, 2003). The half-life of inorganic arsenic in humans is estimated to be between two and 40 days (Health Canada, 2006). A considerable portion of inorganic arsenic is eliminated from the body by the rapid urinary excretion of non-methylated arsenic in both trivalent and pentavalent forms and by sequential methylation of arsenic (+3) to monomethylarsonic acid (MMAA) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAA) in the liver (WHO, 1996).

Measurements of arsenic in urine are useful biological indicators of exposure (ATSDR, 2007). Measurement of urinary arsenic levels is generally accepted as the most reliable indicator of recent arsenic exposure, since arsenic absorbed from the lungs or the gastrointestinal tract is excreted in the urine within one to two days, while arsenic is cleared from blood within a few hours (ATSDR, 2007). Measurements of arsenic in urine have been used to identify recent arsenic ingestion or above-average exposures in populations living near industrial point sources of arsenic. Arsenic levels can also be measured in the blood; however, blood arsenic levels are not as well correlated with drinking water concentrations as are urine arsenic levels (Valentine et al., 1979).

While the majority of assessments on the toxicity of arsenic have concentrated on the inorganic forms, recent studies have highlighted the potential for organic arsenic compounds, in particular the trivalent monomethylated arsenic (MMAIII), to also exert adverse health effects (Cohen et al., 2006; Schwedtle et al., 2003). Further research is required to confirm these findings (Health Canada, 2006). Inhalation of inorganic arsenic has been associated with respiratory cancer for workers in smelters and production facilities for arsenical pesticides (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1993). Chronic ingestion of arsenic has also been associated with non-cancer effects on the skin (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1993), cardiovascular effects including increased incidence of high blood pressure and circulatory problems, and decreased lung function (ATSDR, 2007).

Health Canada and Environment Canada concluded that current concentrations of inorganic arsenic in Canada may be harmful to the environment and to human health (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1993). Arsenic is classified as a human carcinogen (Group I) by Health Canada (2006) and other international agencies (IARC, 2004; US EPA, 1998). Health Canada has established a maximum acceptable concentration for arsenic in drinking water of 0.010 mg/L based on the incidence of internal (lung, bladder, and liver) cancers in humans and taking into consideration the ability of currently available technologies to remove arsenic from drinking water (Health Canada, 2006).

In a study carried out in British Columbia to assess the levels of trace elements in 61 non-smoking adults aged 30-65, the geometric mean concentration and 95th percentile of total arsenic in urine were 27.8 µg/g creatinine and 175.5 µg/g creatinine, respectively (Clark et al., 2007). In a separate study carried out in the region of Québec City on 500 adults aged 18-65, the geometric mean and 90th percentile values of total arsenic in urine were 12.73 µg/L and 65.18 µg/L, respectively. The geometric mean and 90th percentile values of arsenic in blood were 0.95 µg/L and 2.82 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004).

Total arsenic was measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) and is presented as µg/L in blood and as both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.2a, 8.1.2b, 8.1.2c). Finding a measurable amount of arsenic in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to arsenic and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of total arsenic in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.2a
Arsenic - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5319 7.24 1.41 0.89 0.31 0.54 0.86 1.48 2.70 4.08
1.11 - 1.72 0.74 - 1.06 <LOD - 0.41 0.42 - 0.66 0.72 - 1.01 1.20 - 1.76 1.94 - 3.46 2.94 - 5.23
6-11 910 10.77 0.85 0.59 <LOD 0.38 0.66 0.98 1.51 2.16
0.72 - 0.98 0.48 - 0.74 0.24 - 0.52 0.52 - 0.79 0.84 - 1.12 1.14 - 1.88 1.16 - 3.15
12-19 945 10.90 0.89 0.59 <LOD 0.38 0.66 0.96 1.51 1.83
0.57 - 1.21 0.46 - 0.75 0.29 - 0.48 0.50 - 0.81 0.73 - 1.19 1.09 - 1.93 0.99 - 2.66
20-39 1165 6.78 1.28 0.86 0.30 0.54 0.86 1.48 2.45 3.57
1.01 - 1.55 0.72 - 1.04 <LOD - 0.39 0.43 - 0.66 0.71 - 1.01 1.15 - 1.81 1.63 - 3.27 2.50 - 4.64
40-59 1220 4.84 1.63 0.99 0.34 0.60 0.95 1.61 3.04 4.70
1.18 - 2.08 0.81 - 1.20 <LOD - 0.47 0.47 - 0.73 0.79 - 1.11 1.28 - 1.93 2.05 - 4.03 2.48 - 6.93
60-79 1079 4.26 1.77 1.12 0.41 0.63 1.06 1.95 3.56 5.11
1.31 - 2.22 0.91 - 1.38 0.29 - 0.53 0.51 - 0.75 0.82 - 1.31 1.37 - 2.54 2.52 - 4.60 3.51 - 6.71
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2576 6.72 1.43 0.89 0.31 0.54 0.85 1.48 2.72 3.97
1.11 - 1.74 0.75 - 1.06 <LOD - 0.40 0.44 - 0.65 0.70 - 1.00 1.18 - 1.78 1.93 - 3.50 2.76 - 5.17
6-11 459 11.11 0.76 0.56 <LOD 0.35 0.62 0.92 1.34 1.89
0.56 - 0.97 0.41 - 0.75 <LOD - 0.51 0.44 - 0.80 0.69 - 1.16 0.77 - 1.91 1.28 - 2.50
12-19 489 11.66 0.88 0.58 <LOD 0.38 0.64 0.95 1.49 1.66
0.43 - 1.34 0.44 - 0.75 0.29 - 0.48 0.48 - 0.79 0.66 - 1.24 1.09 - 1.89 0.24 - 3.08
20-39 514 4.67 1.22 0.85 0.31 0.55 0.84 1.46 2.25 3.37
0.96 - 1.48 0.70 - 1.03 0.23 - 0.39 0.43 - 0.66 0.69 - 0.99 1.08 - 1.83 1.31 - 3.20 2.11 - 4.62
40-59 577 4.33 1.77 1.03 0.39 0.61 0.96 1.62 3.25 5.01
1.20 - 2.34 0.87 - 1.23 0.27 - 0.52 0.50 - 0.73 0.77 - 1.16 1.30 - 1.94 2.38 - 4.12 2.24 - 7.79
60-79 537 2.98 1.76 1.16 0.41 0.66 1.13 1.98 3.55 4.97
1.35 - 2.16 0.96 - 1.40 0.31 - 0.52 0.52 - 0.79 0.83 - 1.43 1.42 - 2.54 2.46 - 4.65 3.49 - 6.46
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 7.73 1.40 0.88 0.29 0.53 0.89 1.48 2.67 4.19
1.09 - 1.71 0.73 - 1.07 <LOD - 0.41 0.40 - 0.67 0.74 - 1.03 1.21 - 1.76 1.84 - 3.50 2.89 - 5.49
6-11 451 10.42 0.94 0.64 <LOD 0.40 0.68 1.03 1.65 3.13
0.80 - 1.09 0.54 - 0.75 0.27 - 0.52 0.56 - 0.81 0.94 - 1.13 0.98 - 2.32 1.71 - 4.55
12-19 456 10.09 0.90 0.61 <LOD 0.39 0.66 0.96 1.54 1.96
0.65 - 1.14 0.47 - 0.78 0.27 - 0.50 0.50 - 0.83 0.75 - 1.16 1.07 - 2.00 1.40 - 2.52
20-39 651 8.45 1.35 0.88 0.30 0.53 0.88 1.47 2.56 4.00
0.99 - 1.70 0.71 - 1.07 <LOD - 0.41 0.39 - 0.66 0.69 - 1.07 1.17 - 1.78 1.62 - 3.51 2.23 - 5.77
40-59 643 5.29 1.49 0.95 0.33 0.57 0.95 1.57 2.83 4.49
1.12 - 1.86 0.75 - 1.20 <LOD - 0.46 0.38 - 0.76 0.78 - 1.11 1.15 - 1.99 1.73 - 3.93 2.52 - 6.46
60-79 542 5.54 1.77 1.09 0.40 0.62 1.04 1.90 3.57 5.28
1.22 - 2.33 0.86 - 1.39 0.24 - 0.57 0.50 - 0.73 0.82 - 1.26 1.16 - 2.64 2.26 - 4.87 2.90 - 7.65
Table 8.1.2b
Arsenic - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5492 0.18 23.07 12.00 3.20 5.85 11.67 23.77 44.18 70.63
17.67 - 28.48 10.16 - 14.17 2.90 - 3.49 5.06 - 6.64 9.26 - 14.07 18.59 - 28.95 36.80 - 51.57 51.87 - 89.39
6-11 1034 0.10 18.65 9.66 2.46 4.82 9.63 18.59 35.42 51.31
13.82 - 23.48 8.16 - 11.44 1.83 - 3.08 3.80 - 5.83 7.66 - 11.61 14.85 - 22.33 28.37 - 42.47 27.81 - 74.81
12-19 983 0.31 22.58 11.88 3.51 6.61 11.37 21.44 37.40 55.57
9.91 - 35.25 9.96 - 14.16 2.74 - 4.27 5.73 - 7.49 9.05 - 13.68 15.11 - 27.76 23.86 - 50.94 30.29 - 80.86
20-39 1169 0.09 22.47 12.08 3.03 5.86 12.06 25.04 45.11 66.97
17.82 - 27.12 10.44 - 13.99 2.60 - 3.45 5.04 - 6.67 10.17 - 13.94 17.88 - 32.20 37.50 - 52.71 47.15 - 86.79
40-59 1223 0.41 24.99 12.60 3.26 6.08 12.18 24.95 44.94 77.68
18.10 - 31.89 10.45 - 15.19 2.85 - 3.68 4.81 - 7.34 9.07 - 15.29 19.53 - 30.38 37.25 - 52.62 46.76 - 108.61
60-79 1083 0.00 22.59 11.85 3.59 5.66 11.27 22.73 46.02 72.72
16.08 - 29.11 9.30 - 15.10 3.01 - 4.18 4.38 - 6.95 7.34 - 15.20 16.96 - 28.49 27.21 - 64.83 48.74 - 96.69
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2662 0.23 24.73 13.31 3.73 6.82 12.62 25.82 46.92 73.44
18.02 - 31.43 11.08 - 15.99 3.36 - 4.10 5.66 - 7.97 9.39 - 15.85 19.27 - 32.38 38.23 - 55.61 50.40 - 96.49
6-11 524 0.19 18.39 9.61 2.48 5.21 9.64 17.67 33.32 50.89
10.30 - 26.49 7.12 - 12.99 1.23 - 3.73 3.72 - 6.70 7.14 - 12.14 11.62 - 23.72 20.80 - 45.83 26.10 - 75.69
12-19 505 0.40 23.44 11.79 3.81 6.82 10.90 20.51 33.41 52.73
2.33 - 44.55 9.48 - 14.67 2.99 - 4.62 6.10 - 7.54 8.36 - 13.44 15.23 - 25.78 20.64 - 46.18 6.60 - 98.85
20-39 514 0.19 21.68 13.06 3.59 6.13 12.67 28.04 48.54 66.70
17.36 - 26.00 11.09 - 15.39 2.97 - 4.20 4.96 - 7.31 9.79 - 15.55 18.71 - 37.38 36.15 - 60.93 47.65 - 85.75
40-59 578 0.35 29.07 15.01 4.17 7.89 14.46 29.87 47.53 94.70
18.93 - 39.22 11.96 - 18.83 3.00 - 5.35 6.21 - 9.58 9.96 - 18.95 22.21 - 37.52 30.65 - 64.41 48.42 - 140.99
60-79 541 0.00 25.42 13.65 3.84 6.84 13.61 25.66 47.27 75.45
16.90 - 33.95 10.29 - 18.12 2.84 - 4.85 4.80 - 8.87 9.11 - 18.10 18.97 - 32.35 21.82 - 72.73 44.85 - 106.05
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2830 0.14 21.42 10.81 2.80 5.12 10.81 21.98 41.43 67.50
16.86 - 25.99 9.27 - 12.61 2.36 - 3.24 4.44 - 5.79 8.84 - 12.78 18.07 - 25.88 33.99 - 48.88 49.41 - 85.58
6-11 510 0.00 18.92 9.72 2.21 4.42 9.51 19.78 35.89 52.47
13.88 - 23.97 8.21 - 11.50 1.50 - 2.93 3.44 - 5.40 7.13 - 11.90 16.00 - 23.57 28.73 - 43.05 9.29 - 95.66
12-19 478 0.21 21.64 11.98 3.08 5.87 12.05 23.59 42.57 57.19
14.38 - 28.90 9.79 - 14.66 1.43 - 4.74 4.09 - 7.65 9.09 - 15.01 14.56 - 32.63 27.61 - 57.53 37.45 - 76.93
20-39 655 0.00 23.26 11.17 2.37 5.12 11.48 22.26 43.16 67.61
16.58 - 29.93 9.49 - 13.15 1.73 - 3.00 3.96 - 6.29 10.04 - 12.92 17.17 - 27.35 33.96 - 52.36 35.93 - 99.29
40-59 645 0.47 20.95 10.60 2.88 4.68 9.78 22.71 41.24 70.71
15.85 - 26.06 8.97 - 12.53 2.40 - 3.37 3.83 - 5.53 7.30 - 12.26 18.54 - 26.88 34.72 - 47.75 46.91 - 94.51
60-79 542 0.00 20.00 10.40 3.24 5.07 9.35 20.05 38.62 70.46
14.69 - 25.30 8.14 - 13.30 2.30 - 4.19 3.95 - 6.19 6.03 - 12.67 14.73 - 25.37 20.18 - 57.07 46.01 - 94.92
Table 8.1.2c
Arsenic (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5479 0.18 25.82 14.24 4.74 7.45 13.07 24.43 46.49 67.76
18.00 - 33.65 11.44 - 17.72 3.93 - 5.54 5.93 - 8.97 10.09 - 16.05 18.70 - 30.16 33.74 - 59.24 45.70 - 89.82
6-11 1031 0.10 25.35 14.76 5.41 7.85 13.22 24.51 42.59 59.33
18.41 - 32.29 12.23 - 17.80 4.60 - 6.22 6.15 - 9.55 10.10 - 16.33 19.02 - 29.99 33.60 - 51.58 15.61 - 103.05
12-19 982 0.31 15.95 9.82 3.73 5.51 9.25 16.05 29.06 35.75
7.06 - 24.85 7.68 - 12.56 3.09 - 4.36 4.31 - 6.71 6.91 - 11.60 11.49 - 20.60 19.19 - 38.94 20.15 - 51.35
20-39 1165 0.09 22.01 13.35 4.57 7.03 12.52 23.64 42.92 60.29
16.54 - 27.49 10.80 - 16.50 3.84 - 5.30 5.72 - 8.34 9.41 - 15.63 17.84 - 29.45 30.82 - 55.02 39.57 - 81.00
40-59 1218 0.41 31.34 15.72 5.11 8.47 14.26 25.98 50.88 75.15
17.30 - 45.37 12.47 - 19.81 3.72 - 6.51 6.90 - 10.03 10.83 - 17.68 20.79 - 31.17 32.15 - 69.61 15.17 - 135.13
60-79 1083 0.00 28.55 16.57 5.41 7.88 14.86 29.82 56.24 86.85
20.16 - 36.95 12.60 - 21.78 4.41 - 6.42 5.10 - 10.67 9.64 - 20.08 17.51 - 42.13 39.53 - 72.96 57.07 - 116.63
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2653 0.23 25.11 12.85 4.49 6.82 11.50 22.05 38.39 60.03
15.59 - 34.63 10.34 - 15.96 3.68 - 5.29 5.46 - 8.18 8.66 - 14.34 17.14 - 26.96 25.59 - 51.18 41.58 - 78.47
6-11 522 0.19 25.11 14.34 5.52 7.43 12.45 23.16 42.80 56.29
13.72 - 36.50 11.30 - 18.20 4.61 - 6.43 5.71 - 9.15 8.43 - 16.47 16.52 - 29.79 28.70 - 56.90 11.90 - 100.69
12-19 504 0.40 16.61 9.47 3.47 5.14 8.98 15.78 29.69 35.21
2.63 - 30.60 7.25 - 12.36 2.61 - 4.32 3.70 - 6.57 6.88 - 11.07 11.03 - 20.54 19.13 - 40.24 20.28 - 50.14
20-39 512 0.20 17.88 11.73 4.10 6.65 10.82 21.40 33.17 48.48
13.83 - 21.93 9.42 - 14.60 2.91 - 5.29 5.06 - 8.25 8.06 - 13.59 15.96 - 26.83 23.71 - 42.63 39.11 - 57.86
40-59 574 0.35 35.23 14.36 4.74 7.56 12.57 23.65 44.13 70.40
13.86 - 56.60 11.27 - 18.29 3.42 - 6.06 5.97 - 9.14 9.04 - 16.11 18.25 - 29.04 20.99 - 67.27 <LOD - 143.82
60-79 541 0.00 24.23 14.40 5.15 7.31 12.98 23.80 47.22 72.72
17.40 - 31.06 11.22 - 18.47 4.27 - 6.03 5.58 - 9.05 8.83 - 17.13 16.86 - 30.74 29.09 - 65.36 41.06 - 104.37
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2826 0.14 26.54 15.78 5.07 8.18 14.55 27.31 50.89 79.61
19.77 - 33.30 12.61 - 19.75 4.14 - 6.01 6.45 - 9.92 11.25 - 17.85 19.62 - 35.00 37.06 - 64.72 53.80 - 105.43
6-11 509 0.00 25.60 15.20 5.31 8.40 13.73 25.38 41.66 61.26
18.45 - 32.75 12.59 - 18.36 4.08 - 6.54 6.50 - 10.29 10.77 - 16.69 19.15 - 31.61 31.55 - 51.77 <LOD - 128.24
12-19 478 0.21 15.24 10.23 4.06 5.74 9.41 16.40 29.06 38.71
10.73 - 19.75 7.89 - 13.26 3.33 - 4.79 4.39 - 7.08 6.51 - 12.31 11.41 - 21.38 19.19 - 38.93 22.74 - 54.67
20-39 653 0.00 26.18 15.21 4.88 7.61 14.26 26.96 48.78 79.61
17.98 - 34.39 12.10 - 19.12 4.06 - 5.70 6.31 - 8.90 11.29 - 17.22 18.03 - 35.88 32.70 - 64.87 42.95 - 116.26
40-59 644 0.47 27.50 17.19 5.66 9.51 15.95 28.05 53.24 85.99
19.67 - 35.33 13.54 - 21.82 3.78 - 7.55 6.88 - 12.14 11.55 - 20.34 21.82 - 34.27 37.99 - 68.49 35.84 - 136.14
60-79 542 0.00 32.53 18.85 5.78 9.32 17.13 36.96 64.77 95.97
22.15 - 42.90 13.83 - 25.70 4.15 - 7.40 5.80 - 12.83 10.20 - 24.07 23.41 - 50.50 47.58 - 81.97 57.56 - 134.39
References
  • ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (2007). Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp2.html
  • CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment). (1997). Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Environmental and Human Health: Arsenic (Inorganic). Winnipeg, MB.
  • Clark, N.A., Teschke, K., Rideout, K., & Copes, R. (2007). Trace element levels in adults from the west coast of Canada and associations with age, gender, diet, activities, and levels of other trace elements. Chemosphere 70, 155-64.
  • Cohen, S.M., Arnold, L.L., Eldan, M., Lewis, A.S., & Beck, B.D. (2006). Methylated arsenicals: the implications of metabolism and carcinogenicity studies in rodents to human risk assessment. Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 36, 99-133.
  • Environment Canada & Health Canada. (1993). Priority Substances List Assessment Report: Arsenic. Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada.
  • Health Canada. (2006). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality: Guideline Technical Document - Arsenic. Ottawa: Water Quality and Health Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/water-eau/arsenic/index-eng.php
  • Human Biomonitoring Commission of the German Federal Environmental Agency. (2003). Substance Monograph: Arsenic - Reference Value in Urine. Bundesgesundheitsbl - Gesundheitsforsch - Gesundheitsschutz 2003. 46, 12, 1098-1106 (in German).
  • IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). (2004). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans - Volume 84: Some Drinking-Water Disinfectants and Contaminants, including Arsenic, Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation. World Health Organization. Updated 28 September 2004.
  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency). (2005). Fact Sheet on Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) Treated Wood. Health Canada. Retrieved February 17, 2010, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/pest/_fact-fiche/cca-acc/index-eng.php
  • Pomroy, C., Charbonneau, S.M., McCullough, R.S., & Tam, G.K. (1980). Human retention studies with 74As. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 53, 550-56.
  • Rasmussen, P.E., Subramanian, K.S., & Jessiman, B.J. (2001). A multi-element profile of house dust in relation to exterior dust and soils in the city of Ottawa, Canada. Science of the Total Environment, 267(1-3) 125-40.
  • Schneider, G., & Krivan, V. (1993). Multi-element analysis of tobacco and smoke condensate by instrumental neutron activation analysis and atomic absorption spectrometry. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 53, 87-100.
  • Schwerdtle, T., Walter, I., Mackiw, I., & Hartwig, A. (2003). Induction of oxidative DNA damage by arsenite and its trivalent and pentavalent methylated metabolites in cultured human cells and isolated DNA. Carcinogenesis, 24(5) 967-74.
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  • Valentine, J.L., Kang, H.K., & Spivey, G. (1979). Arsenic levels in human blood, urine, and hair in response to exposure via drinking water. Environmental Research, 20, 24-32.
  • WHO (World Health Organization). (1996). Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. Volume 2 - Health Criteria and Other Supporting Information. 2nd Edition. Retrieved from www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwq2v1/en/index1.html
  • Yamauchi, H., Takahashi, K., & Yamamura, Y. (1986). Biliary and urinary excretion of metals in humans. Archives of Environmental Health, 41, 324-330.

8.1.3 Cadmium (CASRN 7440-43-9)

Cadmium (Cd) is a naturally occurring soft, silvery white, blue tinged metal. It is among the least abundant trace metals and often occurs in zinc ores. Canadian zinc ores typically contain 0.001-0.067% recoverable cadmium (Environment Canada, 1972). Common forms of cadmium include soluble and insoluble species, which may also be found as particulate matter in the atmosphere (CCME, 1996; ATSDR, 1999).

Most of the cadmium released into the environment is the result of anthropogenic activities; however, cadmium also enters the environment as a result of natural processes, including forest fires, volcanic emissions, and weathering of soil and bedrock. The main sources of cadmium emitted into the atmosphere are from industrial base-metal smelting and refining processes, and combustion processes, such as coal-fired electrical plants and waste incineration where cadmium is released as a by-product (CCME, 1996).

Cadmium is primarily used in manufacture of nickel-cadmium batteries. It is also used in industrial coatings and electroplating, in pigments, and as a plastic stabilizer in PVC plastics. Cadmium is present in metal alloy sheets, wires, rods, solders, and shields for various industrial applications (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1994). It is frequently an impurity in galvanized pipes and can leach into drinking water (Health Canada, 1986). Cadmium is sometimes used as a pigment in ceramic glazes. In Canada, the leachable cadmium content of glazed ceramics and glassware is regulated under the Hazardous Products Act (Health Canada, 2006). The Act also limits the leachable cadmium content of paints and other surface coatings on toys and other products for use by a child in learning or play to 1000 mg/kg (Health Canada, 2009).

Inhalation of cigarette smoke is the major source of cadmium exposure in smokers. The tobacco of one typical Canadian cigarette contains approximately 1 µg of cadmium, of which 6-20% may be transferred in mainstream smoke (Hammond & O'Connor, 2008). Smoking 20 cigarettes per day can therefore result in an additional daily exposure of approximately 1.2-4 µg of cadmium. Non-smokers are primarily exposed to cadmium through food, although occupational exposure can also be a significant source. Cadmium can also be present in drinking water; other minor exposure pathways include inhalation and leaching/releases from consumer products (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1994; ATSDR, 1999).

Absorption of cadmium in the body depends on the levels of other components of the diet, such as iron, calcium, and protein. The total amount absorbed by humans has been estimated to be between 0.2 and 0.5 µg/day. Absorbed cadmium accumulates mainly in the renal cortex and liver, with concentrations in the renal cortex approximately 5-20 times those in the liver. Only a small proportion of absorbed cadmium is eliminated, mainly in the urine and feces, although small amounts are also eliminated through hair, nails, and sweat. The biological half-life of cadmium has been estimated to be approximately 10-12 years (Amzal et al., 2009; Lauwerys et al., 1994).

Cadmium can be measured in blood, urine, feces, liver, kidney, and hair, among other tissues. Cadmium concentrations in urine best reflect the total body burden of cadmium (i.e., cumulative exposure), although they fluctuate slightly due to recent exposures. American studies indicate that non-smokers have urinary cadmium concentrations of approximately 0.35 μg/g creatinine in the absence of high environmental or occupational exposure (ATSDR, 1999). Concentrations of cadmium in blood reflect both recent and cumulative exposures (CDC, 2005). Typical concentrations in blood are approximately 0.4 to 1 μg/L for non-smokers. Smoking and occupational exposures can elevate blood concentrations (ATSDR, 1999).

Health Canada and Environment Canada concluded that inorganic cadmium compounds are a concern for human health (Environment Canada and Health Canada, 1994). Cadmium and its compounds have been classified as human carcinogens (Group 1) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 1997), with exposure to high levels by inhalation primarily associated with lung cancer. Cadmium is also a respiratory irritant when high concentrations are present in workplace air, and chronic inhalation exposure has been associated with lung effects, including emphysema, and kidney effects. Oral exposure to high doses of cadmium may cause severe gastrointestinal irritation and kidney effects (ATSDR, 1999). On the basis of health considerations, Health Canada has established a maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 0.005 mg/L (5 µg/L) cadmium in drinking water (Health Canada, 1986).

In a study carried out in the region of Québec City on adults aged 18-65, the geometric mean and 90th percentile values of cadmium in urine were 0.54 µg/L and 1.26 µg/L, respectively. The geometric mean and 90th percentile values of cadmium in blood were 0.69 µg/L and 3.43 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004).

Cadmium was measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey and is presented as µg/L in blood and as both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.3a, 8.1.3b, 8.1.3c). Finding a measurable amount of cadmium in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to cadmium and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of cadmium in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.3a
Cadmium - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5319 2.91 0.77 0.35 0.10 0.15 0.28 0.63 2.42 3.63
0.69 - 0.84 0.32 - 0.38 0.09 - 0.11 0.14 - 0.17 0.25 - 0.30 0.55 - 0.71 2.01 - 2.83 3.14 - 4.12
6-11 910 9.12 0.11 0.10 0.05 0.08 0.10 0.14 0.19 0.23
0.10 - 0.13 0.09 - 0.11 <LOD - 0.06 0.07 - 0.08 0.09 - 0.11 0.12 - 0.15 0.16 - 0.22 0.19 - 0.26
12-19 945 3.92 0.35 0.17 0.07 0.11 0.15 0.22 0.52 1.45
0.17 - 0.53 0.14 - 0.21 0.05 - 0.09 0.09 - 0.12 0.13 - 0.16 0.19 - 0.24 0.07 - 0.97 <LOD - 3.05
20-39 1165 1.55 0.81 0.35 0.10 0.15 0.24 0.68 2.63 3.43
0.71 - 0.91 0.31 - 0.39 0.09 - 0.12 0.13 - 0.16 0.22 - 0.27 0.43 - 0.93 2.10 - 3.15 3.11 - 3.76
40-59 1220 0.90 1.00 0.49 0.14 0.21 0.37 1.00 3.16 4.21
0.86 - 1.13 0.44 - 0.54 0.12 - 0.16 0.19 - 0.23 0.32 - 0.41 0.71 - 1.28 2.34 - 3.97 3.71 - 4.71
60-79 1079 0.56 0.73 0.45 0.18 0.25 0.39 0.71 1.73 2.76
0.63 - 0.84 0.42 - 0.49 0.17 - 0.19 0.24 - 0.26 0.38 - 0.41 0.60 - 0.83 1.20 - 2.26 2.26 - 3.25
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2576 3.34 0.73 0.31 0.09 0.14 0.23 0.58 2.35 3.48
0.62 - 0.83 0.28 - 0.35 0.08 - 0.10 0.12 - 0.15 0.20 - 0.25 0.44 - 0.73 1.90 - 2.80 2.89 - 4.07
6-11 459 9.59 0.11 0.09 0.05 0.07 0.10 0.13 0.19 0.21
0.10 - 0.13 0.08 - 0.10 <LOD - 0.07 0.07 - 0.08 0.09 - 0.11 0.12 - 0.15 0.16 - 0.22 0.16 - 0.27
12-19 489 3.48 0.37 0.16 0.06 0.10 0.14 0.21 0.51 1.54
0.14 - 0.60 0.13 - 0.20 0.04 - 0.08 0.08 - 0.12 0.12 - 0.16 0.18 - 0.24 <LOD - 1.18 <LOD - 3.80
20-39 514 2.14 0.85 0.33 0.09 0.13 0.21 0.77 2.86 3.63
0.72 - 0.98 0.27 - 0.41 0.06 - 0.11 0.11 - 0.15 0.16 - 0.26 0.39 - 1.14 2.10 - 3.62 3.17 - 4.09
40-59 577 1.73 0.88 0.40 0.12 0.18 0.28 0.86 2.83 3.87
0.65 - 1.10 0.33 - 0.49 0.09 - 0.14 0.15 - 0.21 0.24 - 0.31 0.33 - 1.38 1.74 - 3.91 2.84 - 4.91
60-79 537 0.74 0.67 0.41 0.16 0.23 0.35 0.66 1.68 2.73
0.53 - 0.81 0.35 - 0.48 0.14 - 0.18 0.21 - 0.24 0.31 - 0.39 0.44 - 0.89 0.96 - 2.41 1.86 - 3.60
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 2.52 0.81 0.39 0.11 0.18 0.33 0.65 2.52 3.73
0.72 - 0.89 0.36 - 0.42 0.10 - 0.12 0.16 - 0.20 0.29 - 0.37 0.57 - 0.74 2.06 - 2.98 3.11 - 4.35
6-11 451 8.65 0.12 0.10 0.05 0.08 0.11 0.14 0.19 0.23
0.10 - 0.13 0.09 - 0.11 <LOD - 0.07 0.07 - 0.09 0.10 - 0.11 0.12 - 0.15 0.15 - 0.23 0.19 - 0.27
12-19 456 4.39 0.33 0.18 0.08 0.11 0.16 0.23 0.56 1.32
0.19 - 0.46 0.15 - 0.22 0.07 - 0.10 0.09 - 0.12 0.13 - 0.18 0.20 - 0.27 0.20 - 0.91 0.05 - 2.59
20-39 651 1.08 0.77 0.36 0.11 0.17 0.27 0.63 2.49 3.24
0.63 - 0.90 0.32 - 0.41 0.10 - 0.13 0.14 - 0.19 0.23 - 0.32 0.45 - 0.81 1.93 - 3.05 2.74 - 3.75
40-59 643 0.16 1.12 0.58 0.19 0.27 0.44 1.12 3.70 4.43
0.95 - 1.29 0.51 - 0.66 0.16 - 0.22 0.24 - 0.31 0.37 - 0.50 0.66 - 1.58 2.86 - 4.55 3.92 - 4.94
60-79 542 0.37 0.79 0.49 0.19 0.28 0.43 0.76 1.77 2.75
0.65 - 0.93 0.44 - 0.56 0.17 - 0.22 0.25 - 0.31 0.37 - 0.48 0.65 - 0.88 0.97 - 2.57 1.90 - 3.59
Table 8.1.3b
Cadmium - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5491 9.71 0.55 0.35 0.09 0.20 0.38 0.68 1.16 1.65
0.52 - 0.58 0.32 - 0.38 <LOD - 0.11 0.17 - 0.22 0.35 - 0.41 0.63 - 0.72 1.06 - 1.27 1.54 - 1.75
6-11 1033 14.71 0.31 0.22 <LOD 0.13 0.25 0.42 0.59 0.72
0.26 - 0.37 0.19 - 0.26 0.10 - 0.16 0.21 - 0.29 0.38 - 0.47 0.52 - 0.65 0.60 - 0.85
12-19 983 10.48 0.37 0.27 <LOD 0.18 0.32 0.48 0.68 0.89
0.32 - 0.42 0.24 - 0.31 0.15 - 0.21 0.28 - 0.36 0.43 - 0.54 0.58 - 0.78 0.65 - 1.13
20-39 1169 13.17 0.43 0.28 <LOD 0.17 0.32 0.54 0.92 1.20
0.39 - 0.47 0.25 - 0.31 0.14 - 0.20 0.28 - 0.36 0.49 - 0.59 0.83 - 1.01 1.04 - 1.35
40-59 1223 7.36 0.67 0.42 0.11 0.25 0.46 0.81 1.51 2.10
0.62 - 0.72 0.38 - 0.47 <LOD - 0.14 0.21 - 0.28 0.40 - 0.51 0.74 - 0.88 1.35 - 1.68 1.75 - 2.44
60-79 1083 3.14 0.77 0.50 0.14 0.28 0.52 0.99 1.61 2.30
0.69 - 0.85 0.45 - 0.56 0.11 - 0.17 0.24 - 0.32 0.47 - 0.57 0.88 - 1.09 1.41 - 1.81 1.93 - 2.67
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2661 8.27 0.55 0.36 0.10 0.21 0.39 0.69 1.16 1.58
0.51 - 0.59 0.33 - 0.39 <LOD - 0.12 0.19 - 0.23 0.36 - 0.43 0.63 - 0.75 1.05 - 1.28 1.44 - 1.73
6-11 523 13.00 0.31 0.23 <LOD 0.15 0.26 0.42 0.60 0.71
0.26 - 0.36 0.19 - 0.27 0.12 - 0.18 0.19 - 0.33 0.37 - 0.48 0.54 - 0.65 0.59 - 0.83
12-19 505 8.12 0.35 0.27 0.10 0.20 0.31 0.45 0.62 0.77
0.31 - 0.40 0.24 - 0.31 <LOD - 0.11 0.16 - 0.23 0.27 - 0.35 0.39 - 0.52 0.50 - 0.74 0.55 - 0.99
20-39 514 11.87 0.41 0.29 <LOD 0.17 0.33 0.54 0.92 1.14
0.38 - 0.45 0.25 - 0.33 0.14 - 0.21 0.28 - 0.39 0.47 - 0.62 0.82 - 1.02 0.99 - 1.29
40-59 578 6.57 0.67 0.44 0.12 0.26 0.49 0.82 1.56 1.94
0.59 - 0.74 0.39 - 0.50 <LOD - 0.15 0.22 - 0.30 0.43 - 0.56 0.71 - 0.92 1.33 - 1.78 1.52 - 2.36
60-79 541 2.22 0.81 0.57 0.20 0.34 0.59 1.04 1.64 2.32
0.69 - 0.93 0.50 - 0.65 0.15 - 0.24 0.29 - 0.38 0.53 - 0.65 0.87 - 1.20 1.36 - 1.92 1.77 - 2.87
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2830 11.06 0.56 0.34 <LOD 0.19 0.36 0.66 1.16 1.71
0.52 - 0.59 0.30 - 0.37 0.16 - 0.21 0.33 - 0.39 0.60 - 0.73 1.00 - 1.32 1.54 - 1.88
6-11 510 16.47 0.32 0.22 <LOD 0.12 0.25 0.42 0.56 0.73
0.24 - 0.40 0.18 - 0.26 <LOD - 0.16 0.21 - 0.29 0.36 - 0.48 0.44 - 0.68 0.57 - 0.88
12-19 478 12.97 0.39 0.28 <LOD 0.17 0.34 0.52 0.73 0.98
0.33 - 0.46 0.23 - 0.33 0.12 - 0.21 0.29 - 0.39 0.42 - 0.62 0.60 - 0.86 0.68 - 1.27
20-39 655 14.20 0.44 0.27 <LOD 0.16 0.29 0.53 0.91 1.32
0.37 - 0.51 0.24 - 0.32 0.13 - 0.19 0.23 - 0.36 0.44 - 0.62 0.71 - 1.12 0.90 - 1.74
40-59 645 8.06 0.67 0.41 0.10 0.23 0.41 0.79 1.48 2.33
0.62 - 0.72 0.35 - 0.46 <LOD - 0.15 0.18 - 0.27 0.34 - 0.49 0.71 - 0.87 1.33 - 1.63 1.86 - 2.80
60-79 542 4.06 0.73 0.45 0.12 0.23 0.46 0.90 1.56 2.21
0.63 - 0.84 0.38 - 0.52 0.09 - 0.15 0.18 - 0.28 0.40 - 0.52 0.73 - 1.07 1.22 - 1.90 1.80 - 2.61
Table 8.1.3c
Cadmium (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5478 9.73 0.57 0.42 0.17 0.25 0.39 0.69 1.15 1.60
0.54 - 0.60 0.40 - 0.44 <LOD - 0.18 0.24 - 0.27 0.37 - 0.41 0.63 - 0.75 1.06 - 1.24 1.47 - 1.73
6-11 1030 14.76 0.42 0.34 <LOD 0.24 0.34 0.47 0.70 0.86
0.33 - 0.51 0.31 - 0.38 0.22 - 0.27 0.30 - 0.37 0.41 - 0.53 0.58 - 0.82 0.71 - 1.01
12-19 982 10.49 0.28 0.24 <LOD 0.17 0.24 0.32 0.42 0.53
0.24 - 0.31 0.22 - 0.26 0.15 - 0.19 0.22 - 0.26 0.29 - 0.34 0.35 - 0.49 0.41 - 0.66
20-39 1165 13.22 0.38 0.31 <LOD 0.21 0.30 0.46 0.69 0.83
0.35 - 0.42 0.30 - 0.33 0.19 - 0.23 0.28 - 0.32 0.43 - 0.49 0.62 - 0.77 0.68 - 0.97
40-59 1218 7.39 0.71 0.54 0.22 0.34 0.52 0.86 1.42 1.94
0.67 - 0.74 0.51 - 0.58 <LOD - 0.26 0.31 - 0.36 0.47 - 0.56 0.78 - 0.95 1.24 - 1.59 1.67 - 2.21
60-79 1083 3.14 0.88 0.70 0.31 0.43 0.69 1.11 1.64 2.18
0.80 - 0.96 0.64 - 0.77 0.28 - 0.33 0.39 - 0.47 0.62 - 0.76 0.98 - 1.25 1.52 - 1.75 1.87 - 2.49
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2652 8.30 0.46 0.36 0.16 0.22 0.34 0.54 0.93 1.22
0.42 - 0.49 0.34 - 0.38 <LOD - 0.17 0.21 - 0.24 0.32 - 0.36 0.49 - 0.60 0.79 - 1.06 1.09 - 1.34
6-11 521 13.05 0.40 0.34 <LOD 0.25 0.34 0.46 0.71 0.83
0.36 - 0.45 0.32 - 0.37 0.23 - 0.27 0.31 - 0.36 0.41 - 0.51 0.57 - 0.85 0.68 - 0.97
12-19 504 8.13 0.27 0.23 0.13 0.16 0.23 0.31 0.43 0.53
0.23 - 0.30 0.21 - 0.25 <LOD - 0.14 0.14 - 0.18 0.21 - 0.25 0.27 - 0.36 0.36 - 0.50 0.31 - 0.75
20-39 512 11.91 0.30 0.26 <LOD 0.18 0.26 0.37 0.53 0.65
0.28 - 0.32 0.25 - 0.28 0.17 - 0.19 0.23 - 0.28 0.34 - 0.41 0.46 - 0.60 0.53 - 0.77
40-59 574 6.62 0.54 0.43 0.18 0.29 0.42 0.70 1.04 1.24
0.49 - 0.59 0.40 - 0.48 <LOD - 0.21 0.24 - 0.33 0.38 - 0.47 0.59 - 0.80 0.90 - 1.17 0.99 - 1.50
60-79 541 2.22 0.75 0.60 0.27 0.39 0.56 1.00 1.47 1.76
0.63 - 0.86 0.52 - 0.69 0.24 - 0.29 0.34 - 0.43 0.48 - 0.65 0.74 - 1.27 1.25 - 1.70 1.48 - 2.04
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2826 11.08 0.68 0.50 <LOD 0.29 0.46 0.80 1.42 2.02
0.63 - 0.72 0.47 - 0.53 0.27 - 0.31 0.42 - 0.51 0.74 - 0.86 1.23 - 1.61 1.77 - 2.27
6-11 509 16.50 0.45 0.34 <LOD 0.24 0.33 0.47 0.70 0.91
0.30 - 0.59 0.29 - 0.40 <LOD - 0.27 0.29 - 0.38 0.39 - 0.56 0.56 - 0.83 0.68 - 1.13
12-19 478 12.97 0.29 0.25 <LOD 0.19 0.25 0.32 0.42 0.53
0.24 - 0.33 0.22 - 0.27 0.17 - 0.21 0.24 - 0.27 0.29 - 0.34 0.34 - 0.50 0.39 - 0.68
20-39 653 14.24 0.47 0.37 <LOD 0.25 0.35 0.55 0.79 1.11
0.40 - 0.53 0.34 - 0.41 0.22 - 0.28 0.31 - 0.38 0.49 - 0.61 0.65 - 0.93 0.81 - 1.41
40-59 644 8.07 0.87 0.67 0.28 0.40 0.66 1.11 1.87 2.29
0.82 - 0.92 0.64 - 0.71 <LOD - 0.33 0.37 - 0.44 0.60 - 0.72 1.00 - 1.23 1.59 - 2.14 2.10 - 2.47
60-79 542 4.06 1.00 0.81 0.36 0.52 0.80 1.23 1.88 2.43
0.91 - 1.10 0.75 - 0.88 0.32 - 0.40 0.47 - 0.57 0.71 - 0.89 1.03 - 1.44 1.63 - 2.14 2.08 - 2.78
References
  • Amzal, B., Julin, B., Vahter, M., Wolk, A., Johanson, G., & Akesson, A. (2009). Population toxicokinetic modeling of cadmium for health risk assessment. Environmental Health Perspectives. 117, 8, 1293-301. Epub ahead of print May 6, 2009.
  • ATSDR (Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (1999). Next link will take you to another Web site Toxicological Profile for Cadmium. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment). (1996). Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for Contaminated Sites - Human Health Effects: Inorganic Cadmium. National Contaminated Sites Remediation Program.
  • CDC (Next link will take you to another Web site Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). (2005). Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Atlanta (GA). Retrieved on March 4, 2010
  • Environment Canada. (1972). National inventory of sources and emissions of cadmium. Report APCD 76-2. Ottawa: Air Pollution Control Directorate.
  • Environment Canada & Health Canada. (1994). Canadian Environmental Protection Act - Priority Substances List Assessment: Next link will take you to another Web site Cadmium and its Compounds. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • Hammond, D., & O'Connor, R.J. (2008). Constituents in tobacco and smoke emissions from Canadian cigarettes. Tobacco Control, 17 (Supplement 1), i24-i31.
  • Health Canada. (1986). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality - Supporting Documents: Cadmium. Retrieved December 9, 2009
  • Health Canada. (2006). It's Your Health - The Safe Use of Cookware. Retrieved December 9, 2009
  • Health Canada. (2009). Notice Regarding Canada's Legislated Safety Requirements Related to Heavy Metal Content in Surface Coating Materials Applied to Children's Toys. Retrieved December 9, 2009
  • IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). (1997). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans - Volume 58: Beryllium, Cadmium, Mercury, and Exposures in the Glass Manufacturing Industry. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation. Retrieved February 17, 2010
  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • Lauwerys, R.R., Bernard, A.M., Roels, H.A., & Buchet, J.P. (1994). Cadmium: exposure markers as predictors of nephrotoxic effects. Clinical Chemistry 40, 7 Pt 2, 1391-94.

8.1.4 Copper (CASRN 7440-50-8)

Copper (Cu) is the twenty-sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and occurs naturally in rock, soil, sediment, water, plants, and animals (CCME, 1997). Pure copper is a reddish, lustrous, malleable, and ductile metal, while many copper compounds have a blue-green colour (CCME, 1997). Copper is commonly found in the form of various sulphide minerals. It is considered an essential element required for the maintenance of health. Copper is needed for many physiological processes, including cellular respiration, iron metabolism, antioxidant defence, connective tissue development, and neurotransmitter production (WHO, 1998).

Copper is released from natural sources, including volcanoes, decaying vegetation, and forest fires, or from anthropogenic sources, such as mining, farming, manufacturing operations, and combustion of fuels and other materials containing copper. Copper is mined extensively for use in the manufacture of brass, bronze, gunmetal, and Monel metal alloys. Copper alloys are used in sheet metal, piping, and electrical conductors, with electrical wire and other electronic applications accounting for 65% of global copper use. Copper and copper alloys are also used in cooking utensils, coins, antifouling paint, dental amalgams, plumbing fixtures and pipes, and architecturalapplications such as roofing, guttering, and flashing. In addition, copper compounds are important chemicals in the textile, petroleum refining, wood preservative, and agricultural industries (CCME, 1997; ATSDR, 2004; WHO, 1998; Health Canada, 2007).

For the general population, most exposure to copper originates from food (CCME, 1997), although additional exposure may result from inhalation of dust particles, from ingestion of drinking water that contains copper, or by hand-to-mouth activity after skin contact with soil, water, and other copper-containing substances. Copper is an essential nutrient for humans and functions mainly as a catalytic co-factor for enzymes, and therefore a certain amount is required for growth and proper functioning of physiological processes. The estimated average requirement (EAR) for copper ranges from 260 μg/day for young children to 1000 μg/day during lactation, and the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) ranges from 340 μg/day for young children to 1300 μg/day during lactation; the adequate intake (AI) for infants (0-12 months) ranges from 200 to 220 µg/day (Health Canada, 2005; IOM, 2001). Overt copper deficiency is relatively rare, but has been associated with effects such as anaemia, neutropenia, and bone abnormalities (WHO, 1998).

Approximately 24-60% of copper is absorbed following oral ingestion; absorption is affected by a number of factors, including the amount of copper in thediet, presence of other metals such as zinc, iron, molybdenum, lead, and cadmium, and age (ATSDR, 2004; WHO, 1998). Following ingestion, absorbed copper is bound to plasma protein carriers such as ceruloplasmin and is transported to the liver. Copper is then re-distributed from the liver to other tissues, where it is stored bound to metallothionein and amino acids (ATSDR, 2004). Bile is the major excretory route for copper; up to 70% of orally ingested copper may be excreted in the feces. Normally 0.5-3.0% of daily copper intake is excreted in the urine (ATSDR, 2004). Exposure to copper can lead to increased copper concentrations in whole blood, serum, urine, hair and the liver. Copper concentrations in serum have been observed to decrease rapidly after exposure, indicating that they may only reflect recent exposures. Copper concentrations in hair and fingernails/toenails have also been used to evaluate exposure, and may reflect exposure over longer periods of time (ATSDR, 2004).

High doses of copper may result in adverse effects, although toxic effects from copper are rare in the general population. Hemodialysis patients, individuals with the genetic disorder Wilson's disease, and those with chronic liver disease may be more susceptible to copper toxicity (WHO, 1998). Acute oral exposure to high doses of copper has been associated with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. When inhaled, copper is a respiratory tract irritant. Metal fume fever has been associated with exposure to high concentrations of metal fumes, including copper, generally in an industrial setting. Eye irritation from exposure tocopper dust has also been reported (ATSDR, 2004; WHO, 1998). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not reviewed copper for its carcinogenic potential; the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA, 1988) concluded that there were o human data and inadequate animal data to assess the carcinogenicity of copper and copper compounds.

Health Canada (2006) has adopted tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for copper that are based on liver damage as the critical adverse effect. The ULs for copper are 1 mg/day for children 1 to 3 years old, 3 mg/day for children 4 to 8 years old, 5 mg/day for children 9 to 13 years old, 8 mg/day for adolescents (14-18 years old), and 10 mg/day for adults (IOM, 2001). Health Canada (1992) has established an aesthetic objective for drinking water of ≤1 mg/L based on palatability and staining of laundry and plumbing fixtures; this guideline was also deemed protectiveof adverse health effects.

In a study carried out in British Columbia, 61 non-smoking participants aged 30-65 were assessed for the levels of various trace elements in blood and urine. The geometric mean and 95th percentile values of copper in urine were 10.67 µg/g creatinine and 19.66 µg/g creatinine, respectively (Clark et al., 2007).

Copper was measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey and is presented as µg/L in blood and as both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.4a, 8.1.4b, 8.1.4c). Finding a measurable amount of copper in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to copper and does not necessarily meanthat an adverse health effect will occur. Because copper is an essential nutrient for the maintenance of health its presence is expected. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of copper in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.4a
Copper - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5318 0.00 927.91 912.76 747.93 812.91 887.56 994.68 1138.95 1256.11
912.55 - 943.28 898.08 - 927.68 736.30 - 759.57 797.98 - 827.84 870.76 - 904.35 975.29 - 1014.08 1119.15 - 1158.74 1225.82 - 1286.41
6-11 909 0.00 981.59 972.64 824.63 892.74 971.55 1050.89 1139.73 1197.71
959.10 - 1004.07 950.95 - 994.82 789.91 - 859.36 864.92 - 920.57 959.29 - 983.82 1025.79 - 1075.99 1092.73 - 1186.72 1149.07 - 1246.36
12-19 945 0.00 914.10 894.17 724.29 780.04 855.45 968.19 1169.56 1374.50
887.04 - 941.17 871.18 - 917.76 701.74 - 746.85 761.94 - 798.14 843.30 - 867.61 925.76 - 1010.62 1088.16 - 1250.96 1179.28 - 1569.72
20-39 1165 0.00 939.88 917.24 732.21 792.57 868.89 999.12 1238.05 1417.19
921.60 - 958.17 900.63 - 934.16 715.69 - 748.72 773.59 - 811.55 845.35 - 892.43 965.91 - 1032.33 1195.39 - 1280.71 1336.55 - 1497.83
40-59 1220 0.00 912.09 902.34 757.61 817.21 882.49 981.04 1080.33 1166.46
894.92 - 929.27 885.60 - 919.39 738.65 - 776.56 793.62 - 840.81 866.34 - 898.63 958.60 - 1003.48 1052.20 - 1108.46 1131.25 - 1201.67
60-79 1079 0.00 926.19 915.59 769.50 829.39 901.40 996.42 1101.17 1182.98
906.71 - 945.67 897.32 - 934.23 748.33 - 790.68 811.53 - 847.25 881.65 - 921.15 971.09 - 1021.75 1055.32 - 1147.02 1118.82 - 1247.14
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2575 0.00 856.94 849.49 722.24 779.36 844.39 909.55 1007.64 1059.89
840.12 - 873.76 833.41 - 865.87 707.97 - 736.52 767.52 - 791.20 830.58 - 858.19 889.73 - 929.37 975.77 - 1039.51 1023.34 - 1096.44
6-11 458 0.00 1002.59 994.49 843.62 921.11 987.64 1059.46 1154.93 1220.83
979.22 - 1025.97 972.69 - 1016.79 820.25 - 866.98 907.96 - 934.26 972.54 - 1002.74 1028.63 - 1090.29 1093.78 - 1216.08 1143.37 - 1298.29
12-19 489 0.00 841.19 833.49 700.69 761.33 824.91 892.17 1003.67 1083.43
822.65 - 859.73 815.88 - 851.47 677.03 - 724.34 740.76 - 781.89 803.99 - 845.84 866.51 - 917.82 951.26 - 1056.07 1020.94 - 1145.91
20-39 514 0.00 827.54 821.64 704.68 755.78 816.43 879.94 946.30 1016.39
806.19 - 848.89 801.92 - 841.84 682.87 - 726.50 741.65 - 769.92 795.78 - 837.09 855.47 - 904.41 893.05 - 999.56 942.92 - 1089.87
40-59 577 0.00 855.07 848.90 732.66 781.18 849.63 898.92 986.31 1029.77
837.59 - 872.56 831.63 - 866.53 705.98 - 759.33 766.77 - 795.58 835.66 - 863.61 877.06 - 920.78 941.64 - 1030.97 1003.02 - 1056.53
60-79 537 0.00 869.67 862.59 737.75 796.64 863.66 918.74 997.32 1056.03
849.62 - 889.71 843.65 - 881.95 722.61 - 752.89 778.11 - 815.18 841.63 - 885.69 895.70 - 941.79 952.40 - 1042.24 998.36 - 1113.70
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 0.00 999.38 981.24 795.67 860.53 954.60 1071.92 1245.00 1396.58
983.35 - 1015.41 966.43 - 996.27 774.63 - 816.70 846.58 - 874.49 941.08 - 968.11 1051.51 - 1092.33 1219.78 - 1270.21 1321.55 - 1471.62
6-11 451 0.00 959.34 950.01 789.13 867.92 955.36 1024.10 1123.17 1189.36
934.22 - 984.46 924.85 - 975.86 745.66 - 832.60 832.86 - 902.97 934.75 - 975.98 990.48 - 1057.73 1076.96 - 1169.38 1145.93 - 1232.78
12-19 456 0.00 994.17 965.89 757.13 813.55 918.91 1102.16 1376.63 1552.75
948.01 - 1040.32 926.76 - 1006.67 740.77 - 773.49 774.49 - 852.60 886.81 - 951.00 999.60 - 1204.72 1177.55 - 1575.72 1395.75 - 1709.75
20-39 651 0.00 1056.06 1027.82 796.60 860.77 981.17 1196.40 1419.10 1575.72
1032.68 - 1079.44 1006.59 - 1049.51 754.42 - 838.77 835.34 - 886.21 959.00 - 1003.35 1145.98 - 1246.82 1337.39 - 1500.81 1457.55 - 1693.88
40-59 643 0.00 968.72 958.75 801.61 868.91 951.29 1042.72 1152.34 1222.73
949.06 - 988.38 939.80 - 978.07 766.86 - 836.37 849.43 - 888.40 931.45 - 971.13 1011.11 - 1074.33 1110.20 - 1194.47 1166.99 - 1278.47
60-79 542 0.00 977.94 966.97 819.51 871.75 952.53 1041.69 1144.88 1251.24
956.44 - 999.44 947.32 - 987.02 802.07 - 836.96 851.57 - 891.93 934.36 - 970.69 1018.34 - 1065.03 1077.90 - 1211.87 1190.79 - 1311.70
Table 8.1.4b
Copper - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5492 0.29 11.89 8.98 3.04 5.64 9.99 15.51 21.51 26.67
11.28 - 12.50 8.24 - 9.79 2.48 - 3.60 4.87 - 6.42 9.29 - 10.69 14.61 - 16.40 19.92 - 23.10 25.10 - 28.24
6-11 1034 0.29 13.86 10.48 3.77 7.06 11.92 17.44 23.07 27.48
12.35 - 15.37 9.37 - 11.72 2.93 - 4.62 5.83 - 8.30 10.67 - 13.17 16.18 - 18.70 19.86 - 26.28 25.39 - 29.57
12-19 983 0.31 15.90 12.17 4.38 8.65 13.78 19.50 27.67 32.47
15.04 - 16.75 10.93 - 13.55 3.13 - 5.64 6.95 - 10.36 12.77 - 14.79 18.19 - 20.81 25.17 - 30.17 30.00 - 34.95
20-39 1169 0.43 11.45 8.60 3.01 5.54 9.45 15.20 20.78 25.64
10.55 - 12.36 7.57 - 9.78 2.25 - 3.76 4.53 - 6.56 8.33 - 10.56 14.16 - 16.23 19.23 - 22.32 23.03 - 28.25
40-59 1223 0.41 10.82 8.16 2.68 4.85 9.17 14.49 20.26 24.44
10.01 - 11.63 7.42 - 8.97 2.17 - 3.19 3.93 - 5.76 8.40 - 9.93 13.43 - 15.55 18.82 - 21.71 22.33 - 26.54
60-79 1083 0.00 11.34 9.00 3.48 5.68 9.80 14.29 20.27 24.37
10.59 - 12.08 8.39 - 9.66 2.87 - 4.08 5.00 - 6.37 9.11 - 10.50 13.50 - 15.09 18.08 - 22.45 21.35 - 27.38
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2662 0.23 12.75 10.07 3.84 6.90 11.37 16.46 22.58 27.12
11.98 - 13.53 9.31 - 10.91 3.15 - 4.52 6.15 - 7.64 10.73 - 12.01 15.37 - 17.54 20.75 - 24.40 25.65 - 28.59
6-11 524 0.00 13.67 10.71 3.89 7.20 12.18 17.47 23.86 27.14
11.23 - 16.11 8.85 - 12.97 2.49 - 5.30 5.45 - 8.94 10.12 - 14.23 15.64 - 19.30 19.76 - 27.95 25.35 - 28.93
12-19 505 0.40 14.45 11.80 4.77 9.09 13.53 17.85 25.21 28.74
13.14 - 15.76 10.25 - 13.60 3.34 - 6.19 7.44 - 10.74 12.46 - 14.60 16.11 - 19.59 22.69 - 27.72 25.98 - 31.49
20-39 514 0.19 12.09 9.46 3.33 6.48 10.36 16.52 21.76 26.33
10.91 - 13.27 8.20 - 10.92 1.69 - 4.98 5.17 - 7.80 8.95 - 11.77 15.03 - 18.01 19.32 - 24.21 23.42 - 29.24
40-59 578 0.52 12.42 9.63 3.62 6.29 11.41 15.93 22.35 27.22
11.11 - 13.74 8.63 - 10.74 2.95 - 4.28 5.45 - 7.13 10.26 - 12.56 14.11 - 17.74 18.82 - 25.88 23.12 - 31.32
60-79 541 0.00 13.05 10.82 4.78 7.74 11.25 15.96 22.08 27.54
11.97 - 14.14 9.94 - 11.77 4.18 - 5.38 7.01 - 8.46 10.17 - 12.33 14.08 - 17.85 19.41 - 24.76 23.50 - 31.59
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2830 0.35 11.03 8.01 2.78 4.79 8.84 14.31 20.62 25.43
10.34 - 11.72 7.26 - 8.84 2.39 - 3.17 4.11 - 5.47 7.97 - 9.72 13.51 - 15.11 19.32 - 21.92 23.18 - 27.67
6-11 510 0.59 14.07 10.23 3.59 6.81 11.69 17.43 22.64 28.06
12.66 - 15.47 9.39 - 11.14 2.77 - 4.40 5.60 - 8.02 10.65 - 12.73 16.12 - 18.73 20.38 - 24.90 23.75 - 32.38
12-19 478 0.21 17.48 12.58 3.81 7.95 15.03 22.44 30.86 34.46
15.05 - 19.90 10.87 - 14.56 2.16 - 5.46 5.41 - 10.49 13.19 - 16.87 19.72 - 25.15 28.56 - 33.16 30.26 - 38.67
20-39 655 0.61 10.81 7.82 2.92 5.08 8.60 13.73 19.46 23.89
9.79 - 11.84 6.86 - 8.91 2.45 - 3.39 4.36 - 5.79 7.16 - 10.04 12.62 - 14.85 17.98 - 20.93 20.17 - 27.60
40-59 645 0.31 9.23 6.93 2.30 3.92 7.60 12.61 19.07 21.87
8.33 - 10.14 6.12 - 7.85 1.77 - 2.84 2.91 - 4.93 6.33 - 8.87 11.27 - 13.95 17.22 - 20.91 18.50 - 25.24
60-79 542 0.00 9.76 7.61 2.87 4.54 8.08 12.53 16.92 23.03
8.85 - 10.67 6.80 - 8.51 2.35 - 3.39 3.88 - 5.20 6.70 - 9.46 11.54 - 13.53 15.34 - 18.50 20.36 - 25.70
Table 8.1.4c
Copper (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5479 0.29 12.44 10.86 7.38 8.69 10.62 13.04 16.85 20.42
11.60 - 13.27 10.46 - 11.28 7.08 - 7.68 8.43 - 8.95 10.36 - 10.88 12.65 - 13.43 16.34 - 17.36 19.50 - 21.33
6-11 1031 0.29 20.03 16.09 11.61 13.41 15.75 18.85 22.32 26.92
11.16 - 28.89 15.23 - 17.01 11.00 - 12.21 12.80 - 14.02 15.05 - 16.45 17.87 - 19.83 20.17 - 24.47 23.68 - 30.16
12-19 982 0.31 12.17 10.60 7.41 8.54 10.11 12.42 15.84 20.03
10.78 - 13.55 10.20 - 11.01 7.01 - 7.81 8.25 - 8.82 9.62 - 10.61 11.83 - 13.00 14.95 - 16.73 17.46 - 22.59
20-39 1165 0.43 11.02 9.60 6.70 7.93 9.52 11.31 13.78 15.68
10.14 - 11.89 9.12 - 10.11 6.35 - 7.05 7.64 - 8.23 9.12 - 9.93 10.84 - 11.77 13.03 - 14.54 14.25 - 17.11
40-59 1218 0.41 11.56 10.46 7.45 8.75 10.42 12.32 14.78 17.43
10.46 - 12.66 9.92 - 11.04 7.09 - 7.80 8.33 - 9.16 9.93 - 10.91 11.87 - 12.78 13.88 - 15.67 16.58 - 18.29
60-79 1083 0.00 13.69 12.59 8.67 10.15 12.13 14.76 19.36 22.46
13.15 - 14.22 12.22 - 12.97 8.10 - 9.25 9.83 - 10.46 11.61 - 12.64 14.05 - 15.48 18.09 - 20.64 19.15 - 25.77
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2653 0.23 11.41 9.95 6.92 7.95 9.58 11.83 15.34 18.49
10.04 - 12.78 9.50 - 10.42 6.64 - 7.19 7.69 - 8.21 9.26 - 9.91 11.44 - 12.23 14.47 - 16.22 17.67 - 19.31
6-11 522 0.00 21.84 16.23 11.69 13.13 15.61 18.58 22.67 27.34
4.55 - 39.13 15.34 - 17.16 11.24 - 12.15 12.20 - 14.05 15.05 - 16.17 17.49 - 19.67 18.96 - 26.38 22.86 - 31.82
12-19 504 0.40 10.70 9.95 7.20 8.21 9.61 12.18 15.24 17.91
10.06 - 11.33 9.31 - 10.65 6.79 - 7.62 7.84 - 8.58 9.11 - 10.11 11.28 - 13.07 13.58 - 16.90 15.81 - 20.01
20-39 512 0.20 9.41 8.67 6.41 7.29 8.51 10.19 11.77 13.23
8.46 - 10.36 8.15 - 9.22 6.11 - 6.71 6.82 - 7.77 7.98 - 9.05 9.61 - 10.76 10.66 - 12.87 11.99 - 14.47
40-59 574 0.52 10.64 9.49 7.09 7.98 9.47 11.19 13.18 16.47
8.77 - 12.50 8.83 - 10.20 6.76 - 7.42 7.62 - 8.33 9.01 - 9.92 10.80 - 11.59 12.10 - 14.26 13.72 - 19.21
60-79 541 0.00 12.56 11.41 7.74 9.21 10.94 13.37 17.00 20.48
11.51 - 13.61 10.78 - 12.07 7.19 - 8.29 8.70 - 9.71 10.26 - 11.61 12.59 - 14.15 15.10 - 18.89 17.03 - 23.94
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2826 0.35 13.46 11.86 8.19 9.68 11.49 14.01 17.95 21.80
12.71 - 14.21 11.42 - 12.31 7.72 - 8.65 9.36 - 9.99 11.18 - 11.81 13.53 - 14.49 17.05 - 18.86 20.32 - 23.28
6-11 509 0.59 18.12 15.95 11.35 13.52 16.08 19.11 22.32 25.20
16.18 - 20.05 14.73 - 17.28 10.11 - 12.59 12.94 - 14.10 15.14 - 17.01 18.19 - 20.04 20.79 - 23.85 21.98 - 28.41
12-19 478 0.21 13.77 11.35 7.73 9.00 10.57 12.63 16.76 25.20
10.60 - 16.94 10.82 - 11.90 7.17 - 8.28 8.31 - 9.70 9.95 - 11.20 12.02 - 13.24 13.63 - 19.88 17.43 - 32.98
20-39 653 0.61 12.64 10.64 7.75 9.00 10.72 12.33 15.30 18.60
10.74 - 14.54 9.99 - 11.34 7.31 - 8.20 8.59 - 9.40 10.19 - 11.25 11.82 - 12.85 14.31 - 16.28 14.57 - 22.63
40-59 644 0.31 12.47 11.53 8.22 9.75 11.37 13.24 16.01 19.94
11.70 - 13.24 10.98 - 12.10 7.46 - 8.97 9.30 - 10.20 10.79 - 11.94 12.69 - 13.79 14.12 - 17.90 16.21 - 23.67
60-79 542 0.00 14.72 13.78 9.96 11.35 13.08 16.06 20.38 24.45
14.16 - 15.28 13.25 - 14.34 9.21 - 10.71 10.99 - 11.71 12.43 - 13.72 14.92 - 17.21 18.98 - 21.78 20.87 - 28.03
References
  • ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (2004). Toxicological Profile for Copper. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp132.html
  • CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment). (1997). Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for Copper: Environmental and Human Health. Winnipeg: CCME Subcommittee on Environmental Quality Criteria for Contaminated Sites.
  • Clark, N.A., Teschke, K., Rideout, K., & Copes, R. (2007). Trace element levels in adults from the west coast of Canada and associations with age, gender, diet, activities, and levels of other trace elements. Chemosphere, 70, 155-164.
  • Health Canada. (1992). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality: Supporting Documentation - Copper. Water Quality and Health Bureau, Safe Environments Programme. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/water-eau/copper-cuivre/index-eng.php
  • Health Canada. (2005). Dietary Reference Intake Tables. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index_e.html
  • Health Canada. (2006). Federal Contaminated Site Risk Assessment in Canada Part II: Health Canada Toxicological Reference Values (TRVs). Version 2.0. (Draft). Contaminated Sites Division, Safe Environments Programme.
  • Health Canada. (2007). Copper Sulphide Algicides for Swimming Pool Use. Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Retrieved February 17, 2010, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pest/part/protect-proteger/use-utiliser/_pool-piscine/copper-sulfate-cuivre-eng.php#5
  • IOM (Institute of Medicine). (2001). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. A Report of the Panel on Micronutrients, Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and of Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
  • US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) (1988). Integrated Risk Information System: Copper (CASRN 7440-50-8). Retrieved October 9, 2009, from www.epa.gov/ncea/iris/subst/0368.htm
  • WHO (World Health Organization). (1998). Environmental Health Criteria 200: Copper. International Programme on Chemical Safety, Geneva. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc200.htm

8.1.5 Lead (CASRN 7439-92-1)

Lead (Pb) is a naturally occurring element found in rock and soil. It is a heavy metal and can exist in various oxidation states and in both inorganic and organic forms. Inorganic lead includes substances such as elemental lead, lead sulphate, lead carbonates and oxycarbonates, lead oxides, and lead halides. Organic lead compounds include tetra-, tri-, and dialkyl lead compounds.

Lead is currently used in the refining and manufacturing of products such as lead acid car batteries, lead shot and fishing weights, sheet lead, solder, some brass and bronze products, pipes, artists' paints (other than paints for use by children), and some ceramic glazes. Other uses of lead include dyes in paints and pigments, medical equipment (e.g., radiation shields), scientific equipment, and military equipment (ATSDR, 2007; WHO, 2000).

Lead enters the environment from a variety of natural and human sources. Natural processes, such as soil weathering, erosion, and volcanic activity, release lead, but these processes rarely result in elevated concentrations in the environment, with the exceptionof areas with naturally enriched soils. However, human industrial activities release more lead and frequently result in sites of local contamination. Lead released from industrial emissions into the atmosphere can be a major source of environmental contamination, especially near "point sources" such as smelters or refineries. Historical use of leaded motor fuels also resulted in the ubiquitous distribution of lead throughout the environment (WHO, 2000).

Everyone is exposed to trace amounts of lead through soil, household dust, food, drinking water, and air due to lead's natural abundance in the environment and its widespread use for much of the twentieth century. Lead exposure in Canada has decreased substantially since the early 1970s, mainly because leaded gasoline and lead-based paints were phased out and the use of lead solder in food cans was virtually eliminated (Health Canada, 2008). Current potential sources of lead exposure include ingestion of chips and dust from lead-based paints on interior and exterior surfaces of older buildings; ingestion of water from drinking water distribution systems containing lead pipes, lead plumbing fittings, or lead-based solder; ingestion of food grown in areas with high levels of lead in air, water, or soil, (e.g., near base metal smelters, combustion sources, roads, or in cities); and mouthing of toys or other consumer products containing lead or coated with lead-based paints or glazes (Health Canada, 2007).

While only about 10% of the lead ingested by adults is absorbed from the intestine into the blood, about 40% of ingested lead is absorbed by the bodies of preschool children (Health Canada, 2002). Once absorbed by the human body, lead circulates in the bloodstream and either accumulates in tissues (especially in bone) or is excreted from the body as waste. Some lead may also be absorbed into soft tissues such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and lungs. Whereas approximately 70% of the total body burden of lead is located in the bones of children, more than 90% of the total body burden of lead is found in the bones in human adults (US EPA, 2006). Blood and soft tissues represent the active pool for lead, while bone acts as a storage pool; thus, bone lead is considered a biomarker of long-term exposure (ATSDR, 2007). Bone lead can be re-mobilized into the circulating pool of lead, particularly during physiological states of stress associated with increased bone resorption, such as pregnancy, lactation, menopause, extended bed rest, hyperparathyroidism, and osteoporosis (Health Canada, 2002; Rothenberg et al., 2000). In pregnant women, lead stored in bone can act as a source of fetal lead exposure (Rothenberg et al., 2000). Lead is also present in breast milk and can be transferred from lactating mothers to infants (ATSDR, 2007; US EPA, 2006). Blood lead concentrations decrease slowly after exposure, with ahalf-life of about two to six weeks (Health Canada, 1992). The half-life for lead accumulated in the body, such as in bone, is around 25 to 30 years (Health Canada, 2007; ATSDR, 2007). Blood lead is thepreferred method of evaluating human exposure to lead, although other matrices such as urine, bone, hair, and teeth have also been used (CDC, 2005; ATSDR, 2007).

Due to the ability of lead to persist in the body, it is considered a cumulative general poison, with infants, toddlers, children, fetuses, and pregnant women being most susceptible to adverse health effects (US EPA, 2006; Health Canada, 2007). Following acute high-level exposure, lead interferes with a variety of metabolic processes and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsion, coma, and death, although severe cases of lead poisoning are rarely reported in Canada (Health Canada, 2007). Symptoms of long-term exposure to lower lead levels are less evident. Chronic low-level exposure may affect both the central and peripheral nervous systems (ATSDR, 2007). Lead has also been associated with effects on the cardiovascular system (e.g., blood pressure), kidneys, blood, and the immune system (ATSDR, 2007). Cognitive and neurobehavioral effects have been recognized as major concerns for children exposed to lead. Recently, a pooled analysis of several epidemiological studies suggested that deficits in IQ may be associated with elevated blood lead levels (ATSDR 2007). There is no known threshold for the effects of lead exposure on cognitive function and neurobehavioural development (US EPA, 2006; CDC, 2002). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies inorganic lead compounds as probable human carcinogens (Group 2A) (IARC, 2004).

Lead is listed on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the primary federal legislation that deals with industrial chemicals, and this allows the federal government to control the importation, manufacture, distribution, and use of lead and lead compounds in Canada (Health Canada, 2007). CEPA 1999 restricts the use of lead in gasoline and controls its release from secondary lead smelters and steel mills. The use of lead in various toys and other consumer products, which represent a potential risk of lead exposure, is restricted under the Hazardous Products Act and its associated regulations (e.g., Hazardous Products [Glazed Ceramics and Glassware] Regulations, Hazardous Products [Toys] Regulations, Surface Coating Materials Regulations) (Health Canada, 2007). The Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Quality for lead was established as a maximum acceptable concentration of 0.010 mg/L (10 µg/L) (based on a two-year old child as the sensitive sub-group) (Health Canada, 1992).

In 1994, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health recommended a blood lead intervention level of 10 µg/dL. Recent scientific studies indicate that chronic health effects may be occurring in children at blood lead levels below 10 µg/dL (Health Canada, 2007). In recognition of this, Health Canada has undertaken a comprehensive toxicological assessment of the current science on lead and, concurrently, is developing a risk management approach. The new evidence provided in the toxicological assessment will also provide a basis for Health Canada's review of its blood lead intervention levels.

In a study carried out in the region of Québec City on 441 adults aged 18-65, the geometric mean and 90th percentile blood lead concentrations were 2.15 and 4.21 μg/dL, respectively. The geometric and 90th percentile urine lead concentrations were 0.12 and 0.29 µg/dL, respectively (INSPQ, 2004). Higher lead levels have been found in some northern communities; a geometric mean blood level of 3.9 μg/dL was measured from 917 adults aged 18-74 in Nunavik, Québec in 2004 (Dewailly et al., 2007).

Levels of lead in blood and urine were measured in all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey and presented as μg/dL in blood and as both μg/L and μg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.5a, 8.1.5b, 8.1.5c). Finding a measurable amount of lead in blood and urine does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effectwill occur. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of lead in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.5a
Lead - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/dL) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5319 0.02 1.66 1.34 0.60 0.86 1.30 2.03 3.07 3.79
1.52 - 1.79 1.24 - 1.44 0.56 - 0.65 0.79 - 0.93 1.21 - 1.39 1.83 - 2.22 2.77 - 3.37 3.32 - 4.26
6-11 910 0.00 1.02 0.90 0.53 0.65 0.87 1.19 1.61 1.95
0.91 - 1.13 0.81 - 0.99 0.49 - 0.57 0.59 - 0.70 0.77 - 0.97 1.05 - 1.34 1.47 - 1.76 1.65 - 2.26
12-19 945 0.00 0.89 0.80 0.47 0.57 0.76 1.05 1.34 1.64
0.81 - 0.97 0.74 - 0.85 0.44 - 0.51 0.53 - 0.62 0.70 - 0.83 0.99 - 1.11 1.11 - 1.56 1.47 - 1.82
20-39 1165 0.09 1.37 1.12 0.57 0.76 1.05 1.58 2.35 3.12
1.27 - 1.46 1.04 - 1.21 0.52 - 0.62 0.69 - 0.82 0.99 - 1.11 1.39 - 1.77 2.02 - 2.68 2.75 - 3.49
40-59 1220 0.00 1.87 1.60 0.82 1.15 1.55 2.22 3.17 3.87
1.67 - 2.07 1.46 - 1.75 0.70 - 0.95 1.06 - 1.24 1.43 - 1.67 1.95 - 2.50 2.71 - 3.63 3.16 - 4.57
60-79 1079 0.00 2.49 2.08 1.04 1.44 2.07 3.02 4.17 5.19
2.22 - 2.77 1.90 - 2.29 0.93 - 1.14 1.33 - 1.56 1.90 - 2.24 2.68 - 3.37 3.53 - 4.81 4.20 - 6.18
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2576 0.00 1.86 1.51 0.71 1.01 1.44 2.21 3.26 4.22
1.69 - 2.03 1.40 - 1.63 0.66 - 0.76 0.95 - 1.08 1.34 - 1.54 2.01 - 2.42 2.87 - 3.66 3.71 - 4.72
6-11 459 0.00 1.04 0.92 0.54 0.66 0.89 1.21 1.64 1.96
0.94 - 1.14 0.85 - 0.99 0.50 - 0.58 0.61 - 0.72 0.79 - 1.00 1.10 - 1.31 1.44 - 1.83 1.78 - 2.13
12-19 489 0.00 0.99 0.88 0.51 0.65 0.87 1.16 1.53 1.79
0.88 - 1.11 0.82 - 0.96 0.46 - 0.55 0.60 - 0.69 0.79 - 0.95 1.05 - 1.27 1.29 - 1.77 1.28 - 2.29
20-39 514 0.00 1.70 1.41 0.75 0.97 1.30 2.00 2.94 3.65
1.56 - 1.85 1.28 - 1.55 0.65 - 0.85 0.87 - 1.07 1.15 - 1.46 1.68 - 2.33 2.59 - 3.30 2.88 - 4.42
40-59 577 0.00 2.01 1.74 0.98 1.25 1.61 2.35 3.31 3.95
1.75 - 2.27 1.57 - 1.92 0.89 - 1.08 1.15 - 1.35 1.46 - 1.77 1.92 - 2.77 2.77 - 3.85 3.02 - 4.88
60-79 537 0.00 2.78 2.31 1.20 1.55 2.24 3.27 4.86 6.17
2.46 - 3.10 2.08 - 2.57 1.07 - 1.34 1.37 - 1.73 1.98 - 2.49 2.86 - 3.68 3.96 - 5.75 4.95 - 7.39
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 0.04 1.45 1.18 0.55 0.74 1.14 1.74 2.73 3.50
1.30 - 1.60 1.08 - 1.30 0.50 - 0.60 0.68 - 0.81 1.04 - 1.25 1.51 - 1.97 2.35 - 3.12 3.03 - 3.97
6-11 451 0.00 0.99 0.87 0.51 0.64 0.85 1.16 1.61 1.93
0.85 - 1.13 0.77 - 0.99 0.46 - 0.57 0.57 - 0.70 0.73 - 0.97 0.93 - 1.39 1.37 - 1.86 1.26 - 2.60
12-19 456 0.00 0.77 0.71 0.43 0.53 0.68 0.91 1.16 1.46
0.72 - 0.83 0.66 - 0.77 0.37 - 0.49 0.48 - 0.58 0.62 - 0.75 0.79 - 1.04 0.98 - 1.33 1.25 - 1.67
20-39 651 0.15 1.02 0.89 0.52 0.64 0.86 1.19 1.64 2.05
0.92 - 1.12 0.81 - 0.98 0.46 - 0.57 0.60 - 0.68 0.77 - 0.96 1.08 - 1.30 1.38 - 1.91 1.78 - 2.32
40-59 643 0.00 1.72 1.47 0.71 1.05 1.46 2.11 3.11 3.78
1.51 - 1.94 1.31 - 1.65 0.59 - 0.82 0.90 - 1.19 1.27 - 1.64 1.81 - 2.41 2.49 - 3.74 3.05 - 4.52
60-79 542 0.00 2.23 1.89 0.94 1.34 1.93 2.67 3.69 4.53
1.92 - 2.54 1.69 - 2.12 0.81 - 1.07 1.15 - 1.52 1.69 - 2.18 2.27 - 3.06 3.20 - 4.17 3.81 - 5.25
Table 8.1.5b
Lead - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5492 7.54 0.76 0.48 0.13 0.28 0.53 0.92 1.56 2.11
0.68 - 0.84 0.43 - 0.54 0.11 - 0.16 0.24 - 0.32 0.47 - 0.58 0.83 - 1.01 1.37 - 1.76 1.83 - 2.40
6-11 1034 9.28 0.55 0.36 <LOD 0.22 0.41 0.65 1.01 1.31
0.50 - 0.60 0.33 - 0.40 <LOD - 0.16 0.18 - 0.26 0.37 - 0.45 0.57 - 0.73 0.89 - 1.13 1.12 - 1.49
12-19 983 10.17 0.60 0.39 <LOD 0.24 0.43 0.74 1.16 1.55
0.52 - 0.68 0.35 - 0.44 0.21 - 0.28 0.41 - 0.46 0.64 - 0.83 1.02 - 1.29 1.27 - 1.82
20-39 1169 9.50 0.64 0.41 0.11 0.24 0.45 0.75 1.32 1.83
0.58 - 0.71 0.35 - 0.47 <LOD - 0.14 0.19 - 0.29 0.39 - 0.51 0.63 - 0.87 1.10 - 1.55 1.59 - 2.07
40-59 1223 5.97 0.84 0.55 0.17 0.32 0.61 1.02 1.67 2.26
0.70 - 0.98 0.47 - 0.63 0.13 - 0.21 0.26 - 0.38 0.56 - 0.67 0.89 - 1.14 1.31 - 2.02 1.69 - 2.84
60-79 1083 3.14 1.01 0.66 0.20 0.37 0.68 1.28 2.12 2.74
0.90 - 1.12 0.60 - 0.73 0.15 - 0.25 0.32 - 0.42 0.62 - 0.74 1.13 - 1.43 1.82 - 2.43 2.10 - 3.37
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2662 5.86 0.85 0.55 0.15 0.33 0.60 1.02 1.71 2.27
0.75 - 0.94 0.49 - 0.61 0.11 - 0.19 0.30 - 0.36 0.55 - 0.65 0.92 - 1.12 1.47 - 1.94 1.83 - 2.70
6-11 524 6.87 0.53 0.38 0.12 0.23 0.43 0.69 1.02 1.34
0.45 - 0.61 0.32 - 0.46 <LOD - 0.17 0.17 - 0.29 0.33 - 0.53 0.58 - 0.80 0.83 - 1.21 1.06 - 1.63
12-19 505 9.11 0.56 0.38 <LOD 0.25 0.42 0.69 1.02 1.37
0.46 - 0.65 0.33 - 0.44 0.21 - 0.29 0.38 - 0.46 0.60 - 0.79 0.83 - 1.20 0.93 - 1.81
20-39 514 7.00 0.74 0.47 0.11 0.30 0.53 0.95 1.61 1.99
0.63 - 0.84 0.38 - 0.58 <LOD - 0.15 0.22 - 0.38 0.42 - 0.64 0.77 - 1.14 1.31 - 1.91 1.50 - 2.47
40-59 578 4.67 0.95 0.63 0.18 0.38 0.67 1.12 1.73 2.64
0.76 - 1.15 0.55 - 0.72 0.13 - 0.23 0.28 - 0.47 0.61 - 0.73 0.98 - 1.27 1.19 - 2.26 1.79 - 3.50
60-79 541 2.03 1.18 0.84 0.31 0.51 0.84 1.53 2.25 3.07
1.03 - 1.34 0.74 - 0.95 0.23 - 0.38 0.44 - 0.57 0.67 - 1.00 1.28 - 1.78 1.98 - 2.51 2.61 - 3.54
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2830 9.12 0.67 0.43 0.13 0.23 0.45 0.80 1.36 1.86
0.59 - 0.76 0.37 - 0.48 <LOD - 0.15 0.19 - 0.27 0.39 - 0.51 0.69 - 0.91 1.16 - 1.55 1.55 - 2.17
6-11 510 11.76 0.57 0.34 <LOD 0.20 0.40 0.62 0.99 1.29
0.51 - 0.63 0.31 - 0.38 0.16 - 0.25 0.38 - 0.43 0.56 - 0.69 0.84 - 1.14 1.06 - 1.51
12-19 478 11.30 0.65 0.40 <LOD 0.23 0.44 0.79 1.30 1.62
0.51 - 0.79 0.35 - 0.46 <LOD - 0.17 0.18 - 0.28 0.40 - 0.48 0.68 - 0.91 1.02 - 1.58 0.93 - 2.31
20-39 655 11.45 0.55 0.35 <LOD 0.21 0.39 0.65 0.95 1.34
0.46 - 0.63 0.31 - 0.41 <LOD - 0.14 0.16 - 0.26 0.34 - 0.45 0.55 - 0.76 0.78 - 1.12 1.14 - 1.55
40-59 645 7.13 0.73 0.48 0.15 0.25 0.54 0.95 1.53 2.09
0.61 - 0.84 0.40 - 0.57 0.10 - 0.20 0.18 - 0.32 0.42 - 0.65 0.85 - 1.04 1.14 - 1.93 1.62 - 2.56
60-79 542 4.24 0.85 0.54 0.14 0.28 0.57 1.11 1.76 2.28
0.70 - 1.01 0.45 - 0.64 <LOD - 0.20 0.20 - 0.36 0.45 - 0.69 0.88 - 1.34 1.46 - 2.06 1.25 - 3.32
Table 8.1.5c
Lead (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5479 7.56 0.81 0.58 0.24 0.36 0.58 0.94 1.49 1.98
0.74 - 0.88 0.53 - 0.64 0.21 - 0.28 0.33 - 0.39 0.52 - 0.63 0.84 - 1.04 1.35 - 1.64 1.75 - 2.22
6-11 1031 9.31 0.76 0.56 <LOD 0.38 0.54 0.81 1.22 1.60
0.66 - 0.86 0.51 - 0.61 <LOD - 0.30 0.34 - 0.42 0.47 - 0.62 0.72 - 0.91 1.08 - 1.36 1.26 - 1.95
12-19 982 10.18 0.47 0.34 <LOD 0.23 0.34 0.51 0.79 1.06
0.39 - 0.55 0.30 - 0.38 0.20 - 0.26 0.31 - 0.37 0.45 - 0.57 0.66 - 0.93 0.74 - 1.39
20-39 1165 9.53 0.65 0.45 0.21 0.30 0.45 0.70 1.01 1.39
0.58 - 0.72 0.41 - 0.50 <LOD - 0.25 0.27 - 0.32 0.42 - 0.49 0.63 - 0.77 0.87 - 1.15 1.07 - 1.70
40-59 1218 5.99 0.88 0.70 0.31 0.45 0.70 1.11 1.61 2.04
0.78 - 0.98 0.63 - 0.78 0.27 - 0.34 0.42 - 0.49 0.62 - 0.78 0.96 - 1.26 1.35 - 1.88 1.66 - 2.42
60-79 1083 3.14 1.23 0.93 0.41 0.61 0.93 1.43 2.12 2.87
1.08 - 1.37 0.84 - 1.03 0.35 - 0.48 0.55 - 0.67 0.81 - 1.06 1.31 - 1.56 1.80 - 2.44 2.38 - 3.35
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2653 5.88 0.73 0.54 0.23 0.34 0.53 0.87 1.34 1.82
0.66 - 0.80 0.50 - 0.58 0.20 - 0.26 0.32 - 0.37 0.49 - 0.57 0.77 - 0.96 1.18 - 1.49 1.42 - 2.21
6-11 522 6.90 0.76 0.57 0.27 0.39 0.57 0.85 1.24 1.74
0.61 - 0.90 0.53 - 0.63 <LOD - 0.31 0.35 - 0.44 0.48 - 0.66 0.75 - 0.94 1.05 - 1.42 1.31 - 2.16
12-19 504 9.13 0.43 0.32 <LOD 0.21 0.32 0.51 0.74 0.96
0.36 - 0.50 0.29 - 0.36 0.20 - 0.23 0.28 - 0.35 0.44 - 0.58 0.59 - 0.90 0.59 - 1.33
20-39 512 7.03 0.58 0.43 0.21 0.29 0.44 0.67 1.02 1.34
0.52 - 0.63 0.38 - 0.49 <LOD - 0.26 0.26 - 0.32 0.40 - 0.47 0.58 - 0.76 0.81 - 1.23 0.75 - 1.94
40-59 574 4.70 0.78 0.62 0.29 0.40 0.60 0.94 1.34 1.80
0.66 - 0.90 0.55 - 0.69 0.27 - 0.31 0.36 - 0.45 0.53 - 0.68 0.78 - 1.09 1.04 - 1.64 1.10 - 2.49
60-79 541 2.03 1.14 0.88 0.42 0.59 0.87 1.33 1.84 2.36
1.00 - 1.29 0.82 - 0.96 0.39 - 0.44 0.53 - 0.64 0.77 - 0.97 1.13 - 1.53 1.49 - 2.20 1.56 - 3.17
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2826 9.13 0.89 0.63 0.25 0.39 0.63 1.05 1.64 2.10
0.79 - 0.99 0.56 - 0.71 <LOD - 0.29 0.34 - 0.43 0.55 - 0.71 0.89 - 1.21 1.38 - 1.90 1.75 - 2.44
6-11 509 11.79 0.77 0.54 <LOD 0.38 0.53 0.79 1.17 1.52
0.64 - 0.90 0.48 - 0.61 0.34 - 0.42 0.46 - 0.60 0.68 - 0.90 1.00 - 1.35 1.11 - 1.94
12-19 478 11.30 0.51 0.36 <LOD 0.26 0.35 0.53 0.84 1.08
0.39 - 0.63 0.31 - 0.42 <LOD - 0.22 0.21 - 0.30 0.31 - 0.39 0.42 - 0.64 0.65 - 1.02 0.52 - 1.64
20-39 653 11.49 0.72 0.48 <LOD 0.31 0.46 0.73 0.99 1.44
0.56 - 0.88 0.43 - 0.54 <LOD - 0.24 0.26 - 0.35 0.43 - 0.49 0.63 - 0.82 0.81 - 1.17 1.02 - 1.87
40-59 644 7.14 0.98 0.79 0.35 0.51 0.79 1.27 1.82 2.10
0.85 - 1.11 0.69 - 0.91 0.26 - 0.44 0.43 - 0.58 0.69 - 0.89 1.03 - 1.51 1.56 - 2.08 1.43 - 2.78
60-79 542 4.24 1.30 0.97 0.41 0.63 1.00 1.53 2.35 2.99
1.07 - 1.53 0.83 - 1.14 <LOD - 0.56 0.51 - 0.74 0.78 - 1.21 1.35 - 1.72 1.99 - 2.71 2.33 - 3.65
References
  • ATSDR (Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (2007). Next link will take you to another Web site Toxicological Profile for Lead. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). (2002). Next link will take you to another Web site Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta: CDC. Retrieved December 21, 2009
  • CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta: CDC. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • Dewailly, É., Ayotte, P., Pereg, D., Déry, S., Dallaire, R., Fontaine, J., & Côté, S. (2007). Exposure to Environmental Contaminants in Nunavik: Metals. Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. ISBN 13:978-2-550-50450-4 (Printed), ISBN 13:978-2-550-50449-8 (PDF).
  • Federal-Provincial Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health. (1994). Update of Evidence for Low-Level Effects of Lead and Blood Lead Intervention Levels and Strategies. Final Report of the Working Group.
  • Health Canada, (1992). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality - Supporting Documents: Lead. Water Quality and Health Bureau, Safe Environments Programme. Retrieved February 17, 2010
  • Health Canada. (2002). Lead Risk Reduction Strategy - Draft. Consumer Product Safety Bureau. Retrieved February 18, 2010
  • Health Canada. (2007). Lead and Health. ISBN: 978-0-662-44815-0. Retrieved October 30, 2009
  • Health Canada. (2008). It's Your Health - Effects of Lead on Human Health. Updated November 2008.
  • IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). (2004). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans - Volume 87: Inorganic and Organic Lead Compounds. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation. World Health Organization.
  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • Rothenberg, S.J., Khan, F., Manalo, M., Jiang, J., Cuellar, R., Reyes, S., Acosta, S., Jauregui, M., Diaz, M., Sanchez, M., Todd, A.C., & Johnson, C. (2000). Maternal bone lead contribution to blood lead during and after pregnancy. Environmental Research, 82(1), 81-90.
  • US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). (2006). Air Quality Criteria for Lead, Vol I and II. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development. Washington, DC: EPA/600/R-05/144aF.
  • WHO (World Health Organization) (2000). Next link will take you to another Web site Air Quality Guidelines for Europe. WHO Regional Office for Europe. 2nd Edition. Retrieved February 18, 2010

8.1.6 Manganese (CASRN 7439-96-5)

Manganese (Mn) is a naturally occurring element that comprises approximately 0.1% of the Earth's crust and is considered to be one of the least toxic elements (Health Canada, 1987). Manganese is an essential nutrient required for the maintenance of human health (ATSDR, 2000). Pure manganese is silver in colour, but manganese in the environment is always found combined with other elements to form a variety of minerals. Manganese can exist in both organic and inorganic forms, with inorganic manganese in the Mn(II), Mn(III), or Mn(IV) oxidation states most often encountered in the environment and in the workplace. Organo-manganese compounds do not occur in nature, but are manufactured for specific uses (ATSDR, 2000).

Metallic manganese is used principally in steel production to improve hardness and strength. Other uses of manganese compounds include production of dry-cell batteries, fireworks, matches, animal feed (to supply essential trace minerals), porcelain and glass-bonding materials, and fertilizers. Potassium permanganate is commonly used in water and waste-treatment plants as a disinfectant and anti-algal agent, but is also used for metal cleaning, tanning, and bleaching (ATSDR, 2000).

The predominant use of organo-manganese compounds is in the form of methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT), an octane enhancer used by national petroleum refiners prior to 2004 (Health Canada, 2010). Other organo-manganese compounds, such as Maneb or Mancozeb, both of which are currently registered for use in Canada, are used as fungicides for fruits and vegetables, and in seed treatment. Another organo-manganese compound, mangafodipir, is used as a contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (ATSDR, 2000).

Manganese is ubiquitous in the environment and is naturally occurring in air, soil, water, and biological organisms, including food. Manganese is released to the air from iron, steel, and power plants, from coke ovens, and in dust from mining operations. Food is the main source of manganese exposure for the majority of the population (ATSDR, 2000). Manganese is found in trace amounts in all plant and animal tissues. It is estimated that grain products contribute approximately 37% of manganese intake in the adult diet (IOM, 2001). Concentrations in food range from approximately 0.03 mg/kg in milk to approximately 43.9 mg/kg in wheat flour (Health Canada, 2007). The daily dietary intake of manganese for the Canadian population was estimated to be 56 µg/kg body weight/day in the last Canadian Total Diet Study carried out in 2002 (Health Canada, 2009).

The main routes of absorption for manganese are the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Approximately 3-5% of orally ingested manganese is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and enters systemic circulation. Conversely, inhaled manganese enters systemic circulation directly, making the manganese available for distribution to and accumulation in the body's tissues, including the brain (Health Canada, 2008). The ubiquitous presence of manganese in foods along with the essential nature of this element has resulted in the development of homeostatic control mechanisms for dietary manganese. Under conditions of high dietary manganese, adaptive changes include reduced gastrointestinal absorption of manganese, enhanced manganese liver metabolism, and increased biliary and pancreatic excretion of manganese (Davis et al., 1993; Malecki et al., 1996; Finley and Davis, 1999; Dorman et al., 2001; Dorman et al., 2002). Biliary excretionis the main excretory pathway, and once manganese reaches the intestines, a large fraction of the element is ultimately excreted in the feces (Davis et al., 1993; Malecki et al., 1996). Urinary excretion of manganese is low and has been found to be relatively resistant to small changes in dietary manganese intake (Davis & Greger, 1992).

Concentrations in blood and urine can be used to evaluate exposure to manganese. Whole blood is preferred rather than plasma or serum since slight hemolysis of samples can have a significant effect on plasma or serum manganese concentrations (IOM, 2001). Concentrations in blood tend to reflect the overall body burden of manganese, while concentrations in urine are more commonly used to measure levels following an acute exposure to manganese as it is only responsive to significant fluctuations in manganese intake (IOM, 2001). The normal range of manganese concentrations is approximately 4 to 14 µg/L in whole blood, 0.15 to 2.65 µg/L in serum, and 0.97 to 1.07 µg/L in urine (ATSDR, 2000).

Manganese is an essential nutrient involved in the formation of bone, in cellular protection from free radical damage, and in amino acid, cholesterol, and carbohydrate metabolism (IOM, 2001; ATSDR, 2000). Health Canada (2005) has adopted Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for manganese, which account for both its essentiality and its potential toxicity. The ULs for manganese are 2 mg/day for children 1-3 years old, 3 mg/day for children 4-8 years old, 6 mg/day for children 9-13 years old, 9 mg/day for adolescents 14-18 years old, and 11 mg/day for adults. The ULs for pregnant and lactating women are 9 mg/day for women 18 years or younger and 11 mg/day for women 19 years or older (IOM, 2001).

Manganese deficiency in humans is rare; however, excessive exposure to manganese can cause neurological effects (ATSDR, 2000). Very high concentrations of manganese in air, such as those associated with occupational exposures, can result in "metal fume fever," pneumonitis, and manganism (a condition resembling Parkinson's disease) (Health Canada, 1987). Exposure to moderately high levels of manganese in air can result in subtle neurological effects such as poorer fine motor skills. Health Canada has established a reference concentration of 0.05 µg/m3 for manganese in air (Health Canada, 2010). Health Canada (1987) has established an aesthetic objective for drinking water of ≤0.05 mg/L based on palatability and staining of laundry and plumbing fixtures; this guideline was also deemed protective of adverse health effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a health-based drinking water guideline for manganese of <0.4 mg/L (WHO, 2006).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not published an evaluation of the carcinogenicity of manganese. The United States Environmental Protection Agency classifiedmanganese as not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity based on an absence of human data and inadequate animal data (Group D) (US EPA, 1996).

In a study carried out in British Columbia, 61 non-smoking participants aged 30-65 were assessed for the levels of various trace elements in blood and urine. The geometric mean and 95th percentile values of manganese in blood were 10.75 µg/L and 14.94 µg/L, respectively (Clark et al., 2007). In a separate study carried out in the Québec City region, 500 participants aged 18-65 were assessed for the levels of various trace elements in blood and urine. The geometric mean and 90th percentile values of manganese in blood were 9.33 µg/L and 13.74 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004). In a study of manganese levels in a non-occupationally exposed adult population in Southwest Québec in 1996, blood samples were obtained from 297 subjects between the age of 20 and 69 years (Baldwin et al., 1999). The geometric mean blood manganese level for this population was 7.1 µg/L. A study investigating the link between manganese levels and convulsive disorders measured blood manganese levels in a reference population of 120 children (Dupont & Tanaka, 1985). Twenty-nine children, aged 2 to17 years, were tested in 1976, and 24 children, aged 2 to 17 years, were tested in 1984. The mean blood manganese level for the 1976 reference population was 14.4 µg/L, while the mean for the 1984 reference population was 14.0 µg/L.

Manganese was measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey and is presented as µg/L in blood and as both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.6a, 8.1.6b, 8.1.6c). Finding a measurable amount of manganese in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to manganese and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. Because manganese is an essential nutrient for the maintenance of health, its presence is expected. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of manganese in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.6a
Manganese - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5309 0.00 9.68 9.22 6.34 7.49 9.04 11.19 13.71 15.63
9.43 - 9.94 8.99 - 9.47 6.11 - 6.58 7.29 - 7.70 8.81 - 9.27 10.89 - 11.49 13.18 - 14.24 14.98 - 16.27
6-11 907 0.00 10.28 9.86 6.94 8.08 9.74 11.82 14.14 16.36
9.99 - 10.58 9.59 - 10.14 6.67 - 7.20 7.76 - 8.40 9.38 - 10.10 11.43 - 12.21 13.42 - 14.86 15.49 - 17.22
12-19 942 0.00 10.44 9.97 6.68 8.03 9.96 12.20 14.91 16.31
10.13 - 10.75 9.71 - 10.24 6.44 - 6.93 7.75 - 8.30 9.49 - 10.42 11.51 - 12.88 14.32 - 15.51 15.74 - 16.89
20-39 1162 0.00 9.66 9.17 6.27 7.45 9.00 11.22 13.99 16.09
9.28 - 10.04 8.84 - 9.51 6.03 - 6.52 7.14 - 7.75 8.67 - 9.32 10.87 - 11.58 12.91 - 15.06 14.67 - 17.50
40-59 1219 0.00 9.56 9.13 6.42 7.50 8.90 10.83 13.54 15.28
9.15 - 9.97 8.78 - 9.49 6.07 - 6.76 7.22 - 7.79 8.54 - 9.26 10.51 - 11.14 12.81 - 14.27 14.02 - 16.54
60-79 1079 0.00 9.27 8.83 5.96 7.15 8.82 10.82 12.75 14.30
9.01 - 9.54 8.56 - 9.11 5.55 - 6.37 7.00 - 7.29 8.42 - 9.23 10.43 - 11.22 12.14 - 13.36 13.59 - 15.02
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2572 0.00 9.17 8.77 6.15 7.20 8.66 10.58 12.83 14.20
8.88 - 9.45 8.51 - 9.04 5.83 - 6.48 6.94 - 7.46 8.36 - 8.96 10.18 - 10.97 12.14 - 13.53 13.47 - 14.92
6-11 458 0.00 9.88 9.46 6.59 7.65 9.35 11.63 13.56 15.44
9.40 - 10.36 9.06 - 9.88 6.09 - 7.10 7.22 - 8.09 8.93 - 9.77 11.03 - 12.23 12.08 - 15.05 13.11 - 17.77
12-19 489 0.00 9.81 9.44 6.46 7.77 9.43 11.43 13.57 14.71
9.30 - 10.31 8.99 - 9.90 6.16 - 6.76 7.40 - 8.14 8.91 - 9.94 10.34 - 12.51 12.57 - 14.56 13.89 - 15.54
20-39 511 0.00 8.96 8.60 6.21 7.12 8.42 10.34 12.43 13.45
8.67 - 9.25 8.31 - 8.89 5.90 - 6.51 6.67 - 7.58 8.02 - 8.82 9.78 - 10.90 11.34 - 13.53 12.17 - 14.74
40-59 577 0.00 9.15 8.77 6.27 7.31 8.69 10.38 12.35 13.97
8.71 - 9.59 8.39 - 9.18 5.61 - 6.93 6.86 - 7.77 8.22 - 9.15 9.92 - 10.83 11.29 - 13.41 12.63 - 15.31
60-79 537 0.00 8.87 8.41 5.65 6.79 8.23 10.29 12.50 14.18
8.48 - 9.25 8.06 - 8.78 5.40 - 5.91 6.58 - 7.00 7.75 - 8.72 9.62 - 10.96 11.61 - 13.38 13.36 - 15.00
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2737 0.00 10.21 9.70 6.62 7.80 9.55 11.75 14.75 16.48
9.93 - 10.49 9.44 - 9.96 6.40 - 6.84 7.54 - 8.06 9.22 - 9.88 11.45 - 12.05 13.90 - 15.59 15.48 - 17.48
6-11 449 0.00 10.71 10.31 7.38 8.54 10.16 12.17 14.73 16.43
10.40 - 11.03 10.00 - 10.62 6.91 - 7.84 8.23 - 8.85 9.64 - 10.69 11.60 - 12.73 13.62 - 15.85 15.55 - 17.31
12-19 453 0.00 11.15 10.60 7.17 8.33 10.78 13.22 16.10 17.28
10.84 - 11.45 10.35 - 10.86 6.65 - 7.69 7.99 - 8.67 10.33 - 11.24 12.10 - 14.33 15.45 - 16.75 16.33 - 18.24
20-39 651 0.00 10.38 9.79 6.61 7.79 9.49 11.97 15.80 17.32
9.67 - 11.09 9.20 - 10.42 6.11 - 7.12 7.26 - 8.32 8.84 - 10.14 11.23 - 12.72 13.89 - 17.72 15.24 - 19.40
40-59 642 0.00 9.98 9.50 6.50 7.73 9.21 11.53 14.08 16.23
9.39 - 10.56 9.03 - 10.00 6.13 - 6.87 7.36 - 8.10 8.61 - 9.81 10.92 - 12.13 12.57 - 15.59 13.66 - 18.81
60-79 542 0.00 9.64 9.23 6.59 7.61 9.39 11.03 12.91 14.34
9.40 - 9.89 9.00 - 9.46 6.30 - 6.88 7.36 - 7.86 9.00 - 9.77 10.63 - 11.43 12.27 - 13.55 13.57 - 15.11
Table 8.1.6b
Manganese - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5431 35.54 0.15 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.16 0.29 0.40
0.12 - 0.18 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.10 0.14 - 0.19 0.24 - 0.35 0.34 - 0.47
6-11 1032 38.08 0.25 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.17 0.30 0.45
0.08 - 0.43 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.09 0.14 - 0.20 0.26 - 0.35 0.36 - 0.54
12-19 981 32.31 0.17 0.09 <LOD <LOD 0.09 0.17 0.29 0.41
0.12 - 0.22 0.08 - 0.10 0.08 - 0.10 0.14 - 0.19 0.22 - 0.36 0.34 - 0.48
20-39 1153 38.16 0.13 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.16 0.31 0.42
0.11 - 0.15 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.09 0.13 - 0.20 0.23 - 0.39 0.33 - 0.51
40-59 1203 35.91 0.14 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.16 0.28 0.38
0.11 - 0.17 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.10 0.12 - 0.19 0.21 - 0.35 0.31 - 0.45
60-79 1062 32.77 0.16 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.17 0.29 0.42
0.13 - 0.18 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.09 0.13 - 0.20 0.25 - 0.34 0.33 - 0.51
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2639 38.16 0.15 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.15 0.28 0.39
0.11 - 0.19 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.09 0.12 - 0.19 0.21 - 0.34 0.29 - 0.48
6-11 524 39.89 0.35 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.14 0.28 0.39
<LOD - 0.67 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.09 0.11 - 0.18 0.20 - 0.36 0.26 - 0.51
12-19 505 35.25 0.16 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.15 0.26 0.39
0.10 - 0.22 0.07 - 0.09 0.07 - 0.10 0.13 - 0.18 0.20 - 0.33 0.29 - 0.49
20-39 510 40.20 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.16 0.33 0.46
0.06 - 0.10 0.11 - 0.21 0.21 - 0.45 0.30 - 0.63
40-59 572 38.64 0.12 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.15 0.26 0.37
0.09 - 0.15 0.06 - 0.09 0.06 - 0.10 0.12 - 0.19 0.19 - 0.32 0.25 - 0.48
60-79 528 36.74 0.12 0.07 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.15 0.26 0.37
0.09 - 0.15 0.06 - 0.09 0.06 - 0.10 0.10 - 0.20 0.20 - 0.32 0.22 - 0.51
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2792 33.06 0.15 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.09 0.17 0.30 0.41
0.13 - 0.18 0.07 - 0.09 0.08 - 0.10 0.15 - 0.19 0.25 - 0.35 0.37 - 0.45
6-11 508 36.22 0.15 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.09 0.18 0.32 0.45
0.12 - 0.18 0.07 - 0.10 0.06 - 0.11 0.15 - 0.22 0.24 - 0.39 0.37 - 0.53
12-19 476 29.20 0.18 0.10 <LOD <LOD 0.10 0.19 0.31 0.42
0.10 - 0.26 0.09 - 0.11 0.09 - 0.12 0.16 - 0.22 0.22 - 0.41 0.33 - 0.50
20-39 643 36.55 0.13 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.17 0.27 0.40
0.11 - 0.15 0.07 - 0.09 0.06 - 0.10 0.13 - 0.20 0.19 - 0.35 0.32 - 0.47
40-59 631 33.44 0.15 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.09 0.16 0.31 0.40
0.11 - 0.19 0.07 - 0.10 0.07 - 0.11 0.12 - 0.21 0.24 - 0.38 0.33 - 0.48
60-79 534 28.84 0.19 0.09 <LOD <LOD 0.09 0.18 0.31 0.44
0.14 - 0.24 0.08 - 0.10 0.07 - 0.11 0.15 - 0.21 0.25 - 0.37 0.31 - 0.58
Table 8.1.6c
Manganese (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5418 35.62 0.22 0.10 <LOD <LOD 0.09 0.19 0.39 0.70
0.18 - 0.26 0.09 - 0.11 0.08 - 0.10 0.16 - 0.23 0.31 - 0.48 0.57 - 0.84
6-11 1029 38.19 0.39 0.12 <LOD <LOD 0.11 0.23 0.51 0.82
0.28 - 0.49 0.11 - 0.14 0.09 - 0.13 0.19 - 0.28 0.41 - 0.61 0.66 - 0.98
12-19 980 32.35 0.18 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.07 0.14 0.27 0.49
0.11 - 0.26 0.06 - 0.09 0.06 - 0.09 0.11 - 0.17 0.20 - 0.35 0.32 - 0.67
20-39 1149 38.29 0.19 0.09 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.18 0.34 0.62
0.14 - 0.25 0.07 - 0.10 0.07 - 0.09 0.13 - 0.22 0.24 - 0.44 0.38 - 0.85
40-59 1198 36.06 0.21 0.10 <LOD <LOD 0.09 0.20 0.43 0.78
0.16 - 0.25 0.09 - 0.12 0.08 - 0.11 0.15 - 0.25 0.29 - 0.58 0.57 - 1.00
60-79 1062 32.77 0.24 0.11 <LOD <LOD 0.11 0.23 0.44 0.77
0.20 - 0.27 0.10 - 0.13 0.10 - 0.12 0.22 - 0.25 0.34 - 0.54 0.62 - 0.91
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2630 38.29 0.17 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.07 0.14 0.28 0.48
0.13 - 0.21 0.07 - 0.09 0.06 - 0.08 0.11 - 0.18 0.23 - 0.33 0.34 - 0.63
6-11 522 40.04 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.10 0.21 0.47 0.74
0.08 - 0.12 0.16 - 0.26 0.33 - 0.62 0.50 - 0.98
12-19 504 35.32 0.16 0.07 <LOD <LOD 0.06 0.12 0.23 0.31
0.09 - 0.23 0.06 - 0.08 0.05 - 0.08 0.10 - 0.14 0.18 - 0.28 0.16 - 0.47
20-39 508 40.35 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.07 0.14 0.29 0.43
0.06 - 0.09 0.08 - 0.20 0.19 - 0.38 0.22 - 0.63
40-59 568 38.91 0.16 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.07 0.14 0.27 0.55
0.11 - 0.21 0.06 - 0.09 0.05 - 0.09 0.10 - 0.18 0.21 - 0.33 0.23 - 0.86
60-79 528 36.74 0.13 0.08 <LOD <LOD 0.07 0.15 0.31 0.44
0.10 - 0.17 0.06 - 0.10 0.06 - 0.09 0.11 - 0.20 0.24 - 0.38 0.32 - 0.56
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2788 33.11 0.27 0.12 <LOD <LOD 0.12 0.24 0.50 0.85
0.21 - 0.32 0.11 - 0.14 0.11 - 0.13 0.21 - 0.27 0.40 - 0.61 0.70 - 0.99
6-11 507 36.29 0.32 0.13 <LOD <LOD 0.12 0.27 0.55 0.85
0.26 - 0.39 0.11 - 0.15 0.10 - 0.14 0.21 - 0.32 0.42 - 0.67 0.66 - 1.05
12-19 476 29.20 0.21 0.09 <LOD <LOD 0.08 0.16 0.41 0.62
0.09 - 0.33 0.07 - 0.11 0.06 - 0.10 0.11 - 0.20 0.30 - 0.52 0.43 - 0.81
20-39 641 36.66 0.25 0.11 <LOD <LOD 0.10 0.22 0.41 0.73
0.15 - 0.36 0.09 - 0.13 0.09 - 0.12 0.16 - 0.27 0.25 - 0.57 0.21 - 1.24
40-59 630 33.49 0.26 0.14 <LOD <LOD 0.12 0.26 0.54 0.87
0.20 - 0.32 0.12 - 0.16 0.10 - 0.15 0.20 - 0.32 0.40 - 0.68 0.70 - 1.04
60-79 534 28.84 0.33 0.16 <LOD <LOD 0.15 0.28 0.68 1.08
0.26 - 0.39 0.13 - 0.19 0.12 - 0.19 0.23 - 0.32 0.45 - 0.91 0.55 - 1.62
References
  • ATSDR (Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (2000). Next link will take you to another Web site Toxicological Profile for Manganese. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • Baldwin, M., Mergler, D., Larribe, F., Bélanger, S., Tardif, R., Bilodeau, L., & Hudnell, K. (1999). Bioindicator and exposure data for a population based study of manganese. Neurotoxicology, 20(2-3), 343-53.
  • Clark, N.A., Teschke, K., Rideout, K., & Copes, R. (2007). Trace element levels in adults from the west coast of Canada and associations with age, gender, diet, activities, and levels of other trace elements. Chemosphere, 70, 155-64.
  • Davis, C.D., & Greger, J.L. (1992). Longitudinal changes of manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase and other indexes of manganese and iron status in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 55, 747-52.
  • Davis, C.D., Zech, L., & Greger, J.L. (1993). Manganese metabolism in rats: an improved methodology for assessing gut endogenous losses. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 202(1), 103-08.
  • Dorman, D.C., Struve, M.F., James, R.A., McManus, B.E., Marshall, M.W., & Wong, B.A. (2001). Influence of dietary manganese on the pharmacokinetics of inhaled manganese sulphate in male CD rats. Toxicological Sciences, 60(2), 242-51.
  • Dorman, D.C., Struve, M.F., & Wong, B.A. (2002). Brain manganese concentrations in rats following manganese tetroxide inhalation are unaffected by dietary manganese intake. Neurotoxicology, 23(2), 185-95.
  • Dupont, C.L., & Tanaka, Y. (1985). Blood manganese levels in children with convulsive disorder. Biochemical Medicine, 33, 246-55.
  • Finley, J.W., & Davis, C.D. (1999). Manganese deficiency and toxicity: are high or low dietary amounts of manganese cause for concern? BioFactors, 10(1), 15-24.
  • Health Canada. (1987). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality - Supporting Documents: Manganese. Water Quality and Health Bureau, Safe Environments Programme. Retrieved February 18, 2010
  • Health Canada. (2005). Dietary Reference Intake Tables. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • Health Canada. (2007). Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b version. Retrieved February 18, 2010
  • Health Canada. (2009). Canadian Total Diet Study: Average dietary intakes (μg/kg body weight/day) of trace elements for Canadians in different age/sex groups for Total Diet Study in 2002. Retrieved December 13, 2009
  • Health Canada. (2010). Human Health Risk Assessment for Inhaled Manganese - Document Summary. Retrieved July 21, 2010
  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • IOM (Institute of Medicine). (2001). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. A Report of the Panel on Micronutrients, Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and of Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
  • Malecki, E.A., Radzanowski, G.M., Radzanowski, T.J., Gallaher, D.D., & Greger, J.L. (1996). Biliary manganese excretion in conscious rats is affected by acute and chronic manganese intake but not by dietary fat. Journal of Nutrition, 126(2), 489-98.
  • US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). (1996). Manganese (CAS RN 7439-96-5). IRIS Database. Retrieved October 13, 2009
  • WHO (World Health Organization). (2006). Next link will take you to another Web site Guidelines for drinking-water quality, third edition, incorporating first and second addenda. Volume 1 - Recommendations.Retrieved February 18, 2010

8.1.7 Mercury (CASRN 7439-97-6)

Mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring soft, silver-white metal; it is the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature. Its liquid state has a very wide temperature range. It has a relatively high vapour pressure; as a result, it can be present at hazardous concentrations in air as a vapour. Mercury exists in elemental, inorganic, and organic forms (CCME, 1996). The most common organic mercury compounds in nature are methylmercury (monomethylmercury) and dimethylmercury. Mercury can be converted between its elemental, inorganic, and organic forms by a variety of processes, including biological transformation (CCME, 1996; Environment Canada, 2007a).

Use of mercury in consumer products has been limited. Mercury was used in certain products where its unique properties were useful, such as relays and switches, and scientific measuring devices (e.g., flame sensors for older gas-fired appliances, vacuum gauges, thermometers), but it has been phased out of most products, including thermometers and switches. It is still used in some medical devices and some dental fillings (amalgam). Use of mercury in button-cell batteries, which are commonly used in small electronic and hearing aids, has been greatly reduced in recent years (Environment Canada, 2007b).

Mercury is present in many lamps and lights, including all fluorescent lamps, mercury vapour lamps (also known as high intensity discharge or HID lamps), metal halide lamps, and sodium vapour lamps (Environment Canada, 2007a). Use of mercury in light bulbs is increasing because of widespread replacement of incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Mercury is also used in laboratory reagents and as industrial catalysts. It is used in pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, and embalming solutions. Historically, it was used as an antimicrobial and preservative in paints and in some agricultural applications, including turf fungicides, but these practices have been mostly discontinued. A significant use of inorganic mercury is in dental amalgam; in Canada, dental amalgam is made up of 43-50.5% mercury, but it contributes only a small amount to the total daily exposure of Canadians to mercury (CCME, 1996; Environment Canada, 2007a).

Mercury is found throughout the environment, including in remote Arctic regions, due to its persistence, mobility, and tendency to accumulate in colder climates, although it is uncertain how much is natural and how much is anthropogenic. Anthropogenic sources of inorganic mercury in the environment include metal mining and smelting; combustion of fossil fuels, particularly coal; incineration of municipal wastes; cement production; and sewage sludge and wastewater (CCME, 1996; UNEP, 2002). Inorganic mercury may also be released to the environment following disposal of products containing mercury. Metabolism of inorganic mercury by micro-organisms in the environment creates organic mercury (methylmercury), which can bioaccumulate in terrestrial and aquatic food chains (ATSDR, 1999).

Exposure of the general population is primarily to methylmercury and occurs through the consumption of contaminated fish and seafood (Health Canada, 2007). To a much lesser extent, the general population is exposed to inorganic mercury from sources such as dental amalgams (Health Canada, 2007). Previous studies have shown that inorganic mercury comprises 14-26% of total blood mercury (Kingman et al., 1998; Passos et al., 2007; Oskarsson et al., 1996).

Approximately 95% of organic mercury is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract following oral ingestion. Following absorption, organic mercury is distributed to all tissues, including hair, with highest accumulation in the kidneys (ATSDR, 1999). Organic mercury is de-methylated in the body to inorganic mercury, which accumulates primarily in the liver and kidneys. Methylmercury is estimated to have a biological half-life of approximately 50 days. The majority of mercury in the body is excreted via the feces, with a small amount excreted as inorganic mercury in the urine (ATSDR, 1999).

Exposure to mercury is commonly evaluated using mercury concentrations in blood and urine, although hair may also be used as a biomarker of mercury exposure (ATSDR, 1999). Typically, blood and urine mercury levels are reported as total mercury, which comprises both inorganic and organic mercury. The concentration of total mercury in blood is accepted as a reasonable biomeasure of methyl mercury exposure. Based on a review of existing data from other countries, the World Health Organization has estimated that the average total blood mercury concentration for the general population is approximately 8 μg/L; however, individuals with high fish consumption can have concentrations in blood as high as 200 μg/L (ATSDR, 1999). Typical total mercury concentrations in urine have been reported to be in the 4 to 5 μg/L range. Both blood and urine concentrations primarily reflect recent exposures to mercury; urinary mercury levels are also commonly used for assessment of long-term exposure to inorganic mercury (ATSDR, 1999).

Mercury is known to be toxic to both humans and the environment. The toxic effects of mercury depend on the form and the exposure route. Exposure to low concentrations or doses may not result in any observable symptoms (Health Canada, 2007). Inhalation of mercury vapour may cause respiratory, cardiovascular, kidney, and neurological effects. Exposure to elemental mercury is hazardous because of its potential release of toxic mercury vapour, which is readily absorbed into the body through inhalation. Elemental mercury is poorly absorbed through the digestive tract or the skin (ATSDR, 1999). Low-level exposure to inorganic mercury from dental amalgams has not been associated with neurologic effects in children or adults (Bates et al., 2004; Bellinger et al., 2007; DeRouen et al., 2006; Factor-Litvak et al., 2003).

The primary effects associated with oral exposure to organic mercury compounds are neurological effects and developmental neurotoxicity; effects are similar for both acute and chronic exposure. Symptoms of organic mercury toxicity include a tingling sensation in the extremities; impaired peripheral vision, hearing, taste, and smell; slurred speech; muscle weakness and an unsteady gait; irritability; memory loss; depression; and sleeping difficulties. Exposure of a fetus or young child to organic mercury can result in effects on the development of the nervous system, affecting fine motor function, attention, verbal learning, and memory (ATSDR, 1999; Health Canada, 2007).

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) completed a global risk assessment for mercury, and concluded that there was "sufficient evidence of adverse impacts from mercury to warrant further international action to reduce the risks to human health and the environment" (UNEP, 2002). In Canada, several Canada-wide standards have been established to reduce the releases of mercury to the environment (CCME, 2005; Environment Canada, 2007a). The Surface Coating Materials Regulations, in effect under the Hazardous Products Act since April 2005, restrict the level of mercury to no more than 10 mg/kg in all surface coating materials advertised, sold, or imported into Canada (Health Canada, 2006). Mercury is controlled in a number of other products used by Canadians. For example, mercury is listed on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. The Food and Drug Regulations prohibit the use of mercury in most drugs. Under the Pest Control Products Act, mercury-based pesticides are not registered for use in Canada and the mercury levels in natural health products are also restricted.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 1993) determined that methylmercury compounds are possible human carcinogens (Group 2B), based on inadequate human data but sufficient animal data showing a link to certain cancers, particularly renal cancer. Metallic mercury and inorganic mercury compounds were determined to be not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity (Group 3B) (IARC, 1993).

Health Canada (2007) has adopted a provisional tolerable daily intake for mercury developed by the World Health Organization of 0.71 µg/kg body weight/day for adults, of which no more than 2/3 (0.47 µg/kg body weight/day) should be methyl­mercury, as well as a provisional tolerable weekly intake of 1.6 µg methylmercury/kg body weight/week for women who are or may become pregnant and for young children; exposures below these doses are not expected to result in adverse health effects. Health Canada (2004) has established a total mercury blood guidance value of 20 µg/L for the general adult population; a revised guidance value of 8 µg/L for children, pregnant women, and women of childbearing age has recently been recommended (Legrand et al., 2010). Health Canada (1986) established a maximum acceptable concentration of 0.001 mg/L (1 µg/L) for mercury in drinking water. In addition, the Food Directorate of Health Canada has established a guideline level of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) for total mercury in domestically produced and imported fish considered to be the major source of dietary exposure (Health Canada, 2004).

In a study carried out in British Columbia to assess the levels of trace elements in 61 non-smoking adults aged 30-65, the geometric mean and 95th percentile concentrations of total mercury in blood were 2.94 µg/L and 7.26 µg/L, respectively (Clark et al., 2007). In a separate study carried out in the region of Québec City, on 500 adults aged 18-65, the geometric mean and 90th percentile concentrations of total mercury in blood were 0.74 µg/L and 2.01 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004).

Total and inorganic mercury were measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey. Total mercury is presented as µg/L in blood, and inorganic mercury is presented as µg/L in blood and both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.7a, 8.1.7b, 8.1.7c, 8.1.7d). Finding a measurable amount of mercury in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to mercury and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of total and inorganic mercury in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.7a
Mercury (Total) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5319 11.64 1.42 0.69 0.12 0.33 0.81 1.61 3.07 4.70
1.00 - 1.84 0.56 - 0.86 <LOD - 0.14 0.26 - 0.39 0.64 - 0.97 1.17 - 2.04 2.21 - 3.93 2.61 - 6.78
6-11 910 24.84 0.58 0.27 <LOD <LOD 0.28 0.66 1.37 2.08
0.44 - 0.73 0.22 - 0.32 0.23 - 0.34 0.47 - 0.85 1.07 - 1.67 1.27 - 2.88
12-19 945 20.85 0.64 0.31 <LOD 0.13 0.32 0.76 1.36 2.25
0.31 - 0.97 0.23 - 0.40 <LOD - 0.18 0.24 - 0.41 0.47 - 1.06 0.53 - 2.20 0.93 - 3.56
20-39 1165 8.76 1.28 0.65 0.12 0.30 0.77 1.49 3.10 4.89
0.87 - 1.69 0.52 - 0.82 <LOD - 0.16 0.24 - 0.36 0.62 - 0.92 0.93 - 2.06 1.97 - 4.24 2.45 - 7.32
40-59 1220 3.52 1.88 1.02 0.27 0.56 1.11 1.93 3.59 6.39
1.28 - 2.49 0.81 - 1.27 0.19 - 0.35 0.42 - 0.70 0.86 - 1.37 1.50 - 2.36 2.31 - 4.86 3.03 - 9.76
60-79 1079 4.73 1.55 0.87 0.17 0.47 0.97 1.89 3.41 4.83
1.05 - 2.06 0.66 - 1.16 <LOD - 0.26 0.33 - 0.61 0.70 - 1.23 1.23 - 2.54 2.43 - 4.38 2.73 - 6.92
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2576 12.11 1.50 0.68 0.10 0.32 0.79 1.61 3.16 5.13
0.99 - 2.00 0.55 - 0.85 <LOD - 0.14 0.25 - 0.39 0.64 - 0.94 1.15 - 2.07 2.18 - 4.15 2.70 - 7.57
6-11 459 26.14 0.51 0.24 <LOD <LOD 0.26 0.62 1.19 2.05
0.32 - 0.71 0.19 - 0.31 0.18 - 0.33 0.39 - 0.84 0.52 - 1.86 0.96 - 3.13
12-19 489 20.65 0.65 0.29 <LOD 0.12 0.28 0.64 1.48 2.29
0.15 - 1.16 0.20 - 0.41 <LOD - 0.17 0.17 - 0.39 0.19 - 1.09 0.41 - 2.55 0.54 - 4.04
20-39 514 9.34 1.26 0.62 <LOD 0.27 0.73 1.51 3.18 4.61
0.82 - 1.70 0.47 - 0.80 0.19 - 0.36 0.56 - 0.90 0.72 - 2.30 1.71 - 4.65 2.60 - 6.63
40-59 577 3.47 2.08 1.04 0.28 0.59 1.07 1.83 3.42 6.84
1.12 - 3.03 0.82 - 1.32 0.19 - 0.37 0.43 - 0.75 0.81 - 1.32 1.52 - 2.15 1.28 - 5.56 1.42 - 12.26
60-79 537 4.28 1.73 0.98 0.21 0.51 1.05 2.20 3.57 5.67
1.09 - 2.37 0.73 - 1.31 0.10 - 0.31 0.37 - 0.66 0.69 - 1.40 1.61 - 2.79 1.80 - 5.34 1.35 - 9.99
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 11.19 1.34 0.70 0.13 0.33 0.83 1.58 3.00 4.45
0.96 - 1.72 0.56 - 0.89 0.10 - 0.16 0.25 - 0.40 0.63 - 1.03 1.15 - 2.00 2.14 - 3.87 2.55 - 6.36
6-11 451 23.50 0.66 0.29 <LOD 0.11 0.30 0.80 1.44 2.15
0.53 - 0.79 0.25 - 0.35 <LOD - 0.15 0.25 - 0.34 0.54 - 1.05 1.21 - 1.67 1.08 - 3.23
12-19 456 21.05 0.63 0.33 <LOD 0.15 0.36 0.83 1.19 2.23
0.46 - 0.79 0.26 - 0.42 <LOD - 0.21 0.27 - 0.45 0.60 - 1.05 0.43 - 1.96 1.32 - 3.15
20-39 651 8.29 1.30 0.70 0.16 0.33 0.80 1.49 2.67 4.77
0.85 - 1.76 0.52 - 0.92 0.10 - 0.22 0.23 - 0.42 0.59 - 1.02 0.96 - 2.02 1.69 - 3.65 2.07 - 7.46
40-59 643 3.58 1.69 0.99 0.24 0.53 1.16 2.02 3.65 5.35
1.19 - 2.20 0.77 - 1.28 0.14 - 0.34 0.36 - 0.69 0.88 - 1.44 1.44 - 2.60 2.21 - 5.10 2.02 - 8.67
60-79 542 5.17 1.39 0.79 0.13 0.40 0.92 1.70 3.33 4.37
0.99 - 1.80 0.59 - 1.05 <LOD - 0.22 0.21 - 0.58 0.71 - 1.12 1.20 - 2.19 2.47 - 4.19 2.97 - 5.77
Table 8.1.7b
Mercury (inorganic) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
  • S Any estimate based on fewer than the minimum number of respondents required according to the Statistics Act must be suppressed in order to ensure respondent confidentiality. See Section 6.0, Statistical Data Analysis, for further information.
Total,
age 6-79
1123 88.16 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.56 0.88
<LOD - 0.73 0.41 - 1.36
6-11 221 96.38 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD
12-19 204 98.04 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD
20-39 247 88.66 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.75
0.63 - 0.86
40-59 253 79.05 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.77 1.43
<LOD - 1.25 0.54 - 2.32
60-79 198 79.80 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.92 S
0.43 - 1.41
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
557 88.87 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.49 0.88
<LOD - 0.75 <LOD - 1.51
6-11 110 95.45 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD S
12-19 117 98.29 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD S
20-39 113 92.92 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD S
40-59 115 81.74 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.80 S
<LOD - 1.52
60-79 102 74.51 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.92 S
<LOD - 0.61 <LOD - 1.48
Females
Total,
age 6-79
566 87.46 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.60 0.88
0.42 - 0.77 0.48 - 1.27
6-11 111 97.30 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD S
12-19 87 97.70 -- -- S <LOD <LOD <LOD S S
20-39 134 85.07 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.58 S
<LOD - 0.93
40-59 138 76.81 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.75 S
0.41 - 1.10
60-79 96 85.42 -- -- S <LOD <LOD <LOD S S
Table 8.1.7c
Mercury (inorganic) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5444 49.63 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.24 0.76 1.89 2.98
<LOD - 0.28 0.66 - 0.85 1.68 - 2.10 2.58 - 3.37
6-11 1028 66.05 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.35 1.02 1.92
0.20 - 0.49 0.55 - 1.50 1.02 - 2.82
12-19 975 57.54 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.43 1.20 2.32
0.32 - 0.55 0.76 - 1.64 1.52 - 3.11
20-39 1166 46.23 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.23 0.60 1.41 2.31
<LOD - 0.27 0.47 - 0.73 1.08 - 1.74 1.86 - 2.76
40-59 1207 36.04 0.94 0.31 <LOD <LOD 0.38 1.03 2.55 3.50
0.69 - 1.19 0.26 - 0.37 0.29 - 0.47 0.79 - 1.27 1.86 - 3.23 2.23 - 4.77
60-79 1068 45.69 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.25 0.73 2.02 3.07
<LOD - 0.34 0.50 - 0.96 1.47 - 2.57 2.58 - 3.56
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2636 48.33 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.24 0.70 1.78 2.69
<LOD - 0.29 0.57 - 0.83 1.61 - 1.95 2.35 - 3.03
6-11 520 65.38 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.33 0.95 1.95
<LOD - 0.52 0.38 - 1.51 0.81 - 3.10
12-19 501 57.09 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.33 0.76 1.24
0.24 - 0.43 0.52 - 0.99 0.75 - 1.74
20-39 512 47.07 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.22 0.54 1.27 2.12
<LOD - 0.29 0.48 - 0.60 0.94 - 1.60 1.60 - 2.64
40-59 570 33.33 0.85 0.31 <LOD <LOD 0.40 0.98 2.16 3.17
0.64 - 1.06 0.25 - 0.39 0.29 - 0.50 0.79 - 1.17 1.40 - 2.91 1.75 - 4.60
60-79 533 40.71 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.31 0.90 2.35 3.22
<LOD - 0.46 0.27 - 1.53 1.49 - 3.22 2.30 - 4.15
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2808 50.85 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.24 0.80 2.05 3.18
<LOD - 0.28 0.66 - 0.93 1.73 - 2.37 2.77 - 3.60
6-11 508 66.73 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.36 1.09 1.81
<LOD - 0.55 0.56 - 1.61 0.74 - 2.87
12-19 474 58.02 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.57 1.79 2.98
0.29 - 0.84 0.77 - 2.80 1.73 - 4.24
20-39 654 45.57 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.24 0.71 1.62 2.62
<LOD - 0.32 0.45 - 0.97 1.12 - 2.11 1.68 - 3.55
40-59 637 38.46 1.03 0.30 <LOD <LOD 0.33 1.13 2.74 3.56
0.67 - 1.38 0.24 - 0.39 <LOD - 0.46 0.76 - 1.50 2.00 - 3.48 1.94 - 5.19
60-79 535 50.65 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.63 1.76 2.74
0.48 - 0.79 1.20 - 2.33 2.12 - 3.36
Table 8.1.7d
Mercury (inorganic) (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5432 49.74 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.26 0.73 1.67 2.56
<LOD - 0.30 0.62 - 0.83 1.50 - 1.84 2.16 - 2.97
6-11 1025 66.24 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.48 1.31 2.01
0.32 - 0.63 0.60 - 2.02 1.33 - 2.69
12-19 975 57.54 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.30 0.79 1.31
0.23 - 0.37 0.54 - 1.03 0.80 - 1.82
20-39 1162 46.39 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.22 0.55 1.16 1.93
<LOD - 0.25 0.44 - 0.67 0.92 - 1.39 1.56 - 2.30
40-59 1202 36.19 0.87 0.40 <LOD <LOD 0.43 1.13 2.12 3.02
0.68 - 1.06 0.33 - 0.48 0.33 - 0.53 0.88 - 1.38 1.54 - 2.71 2.33 - 3.72
60-79 1068 45.69 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.30 0.94 2.05 2.77
<LOD - 0.43 0.68 - 1.20 1.77 - 2.33 2.15 - 3.38
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2628 48.48 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.22 0.57 1.25 1.80
<LOD - 0.27 0.50 - 0.64 1.09 - 1.41 1.49 - 2.11
6-11 518 65.64 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.46 1.28 1.78
<LOD - 0.61 0.61 - 1.96 1.32 - 2.23
12-19 501 57.09 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.24 0.54 0.91
<LOD - 0.30 0.28 - 0.81 0.73 - 1.09
20-39 510 47.25 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.40 0.77 1.15
<LOD - 0.23 0.34 - 0.46 0.57 - 0.97 0.90 - 1.39
40-59 566 33.57 0.66 0.31 <LOD <LOD 0.37 0.85 1.53 2.57
0.50 - 0.82 0.24 - 0.40 0.26 - 0.48 0.60 - 1.10 1.00 - 2.07 1.52 - 3.63
60-79 533 40.71 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.27 0.93 1.76 2.35
<LOD - 0.44 0.47 - 1.40 1.31 - 2.21 1.47 - 3.22
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2804 50.93 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.30 0.93 2.11 2.91
<LOD - 0.36 0.76 - 1.11 1.79 - 2.43 2.30 - 3.52
6-11 507 66.86 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.49 1.35 2.38
<LOD - 0.74 0.43 - 2.27 1.33 - 3.44
12-19 474 58.02 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.39 1.18 2.31
0.23 - 0.55 0.49 - 1.87 0.89 - 3.73
20-39 652 45.71 -- -- <LOD <LOD 0.26 0.72 1.79 2.51
<LOD - 0.33 0.54 - 0.90 1.27 - 2.31 1.77 - 3.26
40-59 636 38.52 1.08 0.51 <LOD <LOD 0.55 1.34 2.57 3.67
0.77 - 1.38 0.42 - 0.62 <LOD - 0.68 1.04 - 1.64 2.01 - 3.14 1.90 - 5.45
60-79 535 50.65 -- -- <LOD <LOD <LOD 0.94 2.26 2.98
0.65 - 1.23 1.79 - 2.73 2.19 - 3.78
References
  • ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (1999). Toxicological Profile for Mercury. US Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Bates, M.N., Fawcett, J., Garrett, N., Cutress, T., & Kjellstrom, T. (2004). Health effects of dental amalgam exposure: a retrospective cohort study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 33(4), 894-902.
  • Bellinger, D.C., Daniel, D., Trachtenber, F., Tavares, M., & McKinlay. S. (2007). Dental Amalgam Restorations and Children's Neuropsychological Function: The New England Children's Amalgam Trial. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(3), 440-46.
  • Clark, N.A., Teschke, K., Rideout, K., & Copes, R. (2007). Trace element levels in adults from the west coast of Canada and associations with age, gender, diet, activities, and levels of other trace elements. Chemosphere, 70, 155-64.
  • CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment). (1996). Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for Contaminated Sites - Human Health Effects: Inorganic Mercury. Prepared by Health Canada for the National Contaminated Sites Remediation Program.
  • CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment). (2005). Canada-Wide Standards for Mercury (Mercury Emissions, Mercury-Containing Lamps, and Mercury for Next link will take you to another Web site Dental Amalgam Waste): A Report on Progress. Retrieved February 19, 2010
  • DeRouen, T.A., Martin, M.D., Leroux, B.G., Townes, B.D., Woods, J.S., Leitão, J., Castro-Caldas, A., Luis, H., Bernardo, M., Rosenbaum, G., & Martins, I.P. (2006). Neurobehavioral effects of dental amalgam in children: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 295(15), 1784-92.
  • Health Canada. (1986). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality - Technical Document: Mercury. Water Quality and Health Bureau, Safe Environments Programme. Retrieved July 21, 2010
  • Environment Canada. (2007a). Next link will take you to another Web site Mercury and the Environment. Retrieved March 4, 2010
  • Environment Canada. (2007b). Canadian Consumer Battery Baseline Study - Final Report. Retrieved December 14, 2009
  • Factor-Litvak, P., Hasselgren, G., Jacobs, D., Begg, M., Kline, J., Geier, J., Mervish, N., Schoenholtz, S., & Graziano, J. (2003). Mercury derived from dental amalgams and neuropsychologic function. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(5), 719-23.
  • Health Canada. (2004). Mercury - Your Health and the Environment. A Resource Tool. Retrieved February 19, 2010
  • Health Canada. (2006). Industry Guide to Canadian Safety Requirements for Children's Toys and Related Products. Retrieved December 14, 2009
  • Health Canada. (2007). Human Health Risk Assessment of Mercury in Fish and Health Benefits of Fish Consumption. Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch.
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  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • Kingman, A., Albertini, T., & Brown, L.J. (1998). Mercury concentrations in urine and whole blood associated with amalgam exposure in a US military population. Journal of Dental Research, 77, 46-71.
  • Legrand, M., Feeley, M., Tikhonov, C., Schoen, D., & Li-Muller, A. (2010). Methylmercury blood guidance values for Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 101(1), 28-31.
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  • Passos, C.J.S., Mergler, D., Lemire, M., Fillion, M., & Guimarãs, J.R.D. (2007). Fish consumption and bioindicators of inorganic mercury exposure. Science of the Total Environment, 373, 68-76.
  • UNEP Next link will take you to another Web site United Nations Environment Programme. (2002). Global Mercury Assessment. UNEP Chemicals, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved February 19, 2010

8.1.8 Molybdenum (CASRN 7439-98-7)

Molybdenum (Mo) is a naturally occurring element found throughout the Earth's crust, which commonly exists in combination with other elements and does not occur as a free metal in nature. It is classified as a heavy metal. Molybdenum can occur in a range of oxidation states from -2 to +6 (IMOA, 2007a). Molybdenum is an essential trace element required for the maintenance of good health (IOM, 2001; WHO, 2003).

Molybdenum is found naturally in soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, plants, animals and humans. Anthropogenic sources of exposure include dust and fine particles produced during the refining or shaping of molybdenum or alloys containing molybdenum. Molybdenum may also be released to the environment through natural processes such as the weathering of soil. The primary use of molybdenum is in the steel industry as a component of steel alloys to increase strength and durability and aid in corrosion resistance (IMOA, 2007b). Other uses of molybdenum include electrical contacts, spark plugs, X-ray tubes, filaments, screens, and grids for radio valves, glass-to-metal seals, nonferrous alloys, and pigments (WHO, 1996). Molybdenum compounds are also used in agriculture for the treatment of seeds and in the formulation of fertilizers to prevent molybdenum deficiency (WHO, 2003).

Ingestion of food is a route of exposure for the general population (WHO, 2003). Absorption of dietary molybdenum from the gastrointestinal tract ranges from 30 to 70% (WHO, 1996). Following gastrointestinal absorption, molybdenum rapidly appears in the blood and most organs (WHO, 1996). The highest concentrations of molybdenum are found in the liver, kidneys, and bones, although there is no apparent bioaccumulation of molybdenum in human tissues. Molybdenum is primarily excreted in the urine; when molybdenum intake is low, approximately 60% of ingested molybdenum is excreted in the urine, but when molybdenum intake is high, over 90% is excreted in the urine (IOM, 2001; Turnlund et al., 1995).

Molybdenum is considered to be a nutritionally essential trace element in both animals and humans, as it helps to metabolize proteins and acts as a cofactor for several human enzymes (WHO, 2003; US EPA, 1993). The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 45 μg/day for most adults, but 50 μg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women (IOM, 2001). Average dietary intakes of molybdenum by adult men and women have been estimated at 109 and 76 µg/day, respectively. Molybdenum deficiency is normally only observed in people with metabolic defects (IOM, 2001).

Health Canada (2005) has adopted Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for molybdenum, which account for both its essentiality and its potential toxicity. The ULs for molybdenum are 0.3 mg/day for children 1-3 years old, 0.6 mg/day for children 4-8 years old, 1.1 mg/day for children 9-13 years old, 1.7 mg/day for adolescents 14-18 years old, and 2 mg/day for adults. No UL was developed for infants 0-12 months old, but it is recommended that the sole source of intake is food and formula (IOM, 2001). There are limited toxicity data for molybdenum in humans since adverse effects observed in laboratory animals have not been observed in humans (IOM, 2001). However, chronic exposure to high levels of molybdenum has been associated with gout-like symptoms in humans, including high uric acid concentrations and joint pain (US EPA, 1993).

In a study undertaken in the region of Québec City, including 500 participants aged 18-65, the geometric mean and 90th percentile values for molybdenum in blood were 1.14 µg/L and 1.90 µg/L, respectively. In urine, the geometric mean and 90th percentile values were 44.25 µg/L and 115.16 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004). In a separate study carried out in British Columbia, which included 61 non-smoking adults aged 30-65, the geometric mean concentration and 90th percentile values for molybdenum in blood were 1.47 µg/L and 2.46 µg/L, respectively. The geometric mean and 95th percentile values in urine were 49.5 µg/g creatinine and 159.8 µg/g creatinine, respectively (Clark, 2007).

Molybdenum was measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey and is presented as µg/L in blood and both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.8a, 8.1.8b, 8.1.8c). Finding a measurable amount of molybdenum in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to molybdenum and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. Because molybdenum is an essential trace element required for the maintenance of health, its presence in the blood and urine is expected. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of molybdenum in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.8a
Molybdenum - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5319 0.09 0.76 0.67 0.40 0.51 0.66 0.86 1.16 1.38
0.73 - 0.79 0.66 - 0.69 0.39 - 0.42 0.50 - 0.53 0.64 - 0.68 0.83 - 0.89 1.11 - 1.21 1.31 - 1.46
6-11 910 0.00 1.09 0.85 0.57 0.66 0.80 1.05 1.35 1.60
0.75 - 1.43 0.83 - 0.87 0.55 - 0.59 0.65 - 0.68 0.76 - 0.84 0.98 - 1.12 1.31 - 1.39 1.51 - 1.69
12-19 945 0.11 0.75 0.68 0.41 0.52 0.65 0.85 1.10 1.31
0.69 - 0.80 0.63 - 0.72 0.38 - 0.44 0.49 - 0.55 0.60 - 0.71 0.79 - 0.92 1.00 - 1.19 1.10 - 1.52
20-39 1165 0.09 0.72 0.65 0.40 0.49 0.64 0.82 1.11 1.38
0.69 - 0.76 0.63 - 0.68 0.37 - 0.44 0.47 - 0.51 0.60 - 0.67 0.77 - 0.87 0.96 - 1.25 1.22 - 1.53
40-59 1220 0.08 0.70 0.64 0.38 0.49 0.64 0.81 1.08 1.24
0.67 - 0.73 0.61 - 0.67 0.34 - 0.41 0.47 - 0.52 0.60 - 0.67 0.75 - 0.87 1.01 - 1.14 1.17 - 1.30
60-79 1079 0.19 0.83 0.73 0.41 0.55 0.72 0.93 1.31 1.64
0.80 - 0.87 0.71 - 0.75 0.38 - 0.45 0.51 - 0.58 0.70 - 0.74 0.90 - 0.97 1.23 - 1.38 1.47 - 1.81
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2576 0.12 0.76 0.67 0.41 0.50 0.65 0.85 1.12 1.35
0.71 - 0.81 0.65 - 0.68 0.39 - 0.42 0.49 - 0.51 0.64 - 0.67 0.81 - 0.88 1.04 - 1.19 1.24 - 1.46
6-11 459 0.00 1.27 0.87 0.57 0.68 0.82 1.06 1.35 1.59
0.59 - 1.96 0.84 - 0.90 0.53 - 0.61 0.65 - 0.71 0.74 - 0.89 0.96 - 1.16 1.30 - 1.41 1.50 - 1.68
12-19 489 0.00 0.77 0.70 0.43 0.54 0.67 0.87 1.12 1.35
0.70 - 0.84 0.65 - 0.74 0.39 - 0.48 0.51 - 0.58 0.62 - 0.71 0.81 - 0.93 0.99 - 1.24 0.98 - 1.72
20-39 514 0.00 0.69 0.64 0.41 0.49 0.63 0.80 1.03 1.30
0.65 - 0.74 0.61 - 0.67 0.36 - 0.45 0.46 - 0.51 0.59 - 0.67 0.75 - 0.85 0.85 - 1.21 1.08 - 1.52
40-59 577 0.17 0.70 0.63 0.38 0.48 0.64 0.80 1.04 1.21
0.65 - 0.74 0.60 - 0.67 0.33 - 0.43 0.44 - 0.52 0.59 - 0.68 0.73 - 0.86 0.97 - 1.10 1.11 - 1.30
60-79 537 0.37 0.79 0.69 0.40 0.51 0.69 0.90 1.21 1.55
0.74 - 0.84 0.65 - 0.74 0.36 - 0.44 0.46 - 0.57 0.64 - 0.73 0.85 - 0.95 1.11 - 1.32 1.36 - 1.74
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 0.07 0.76 0.68 0.40 0.52 0.67 0.88 1.19 1.40
0.74 - 0.79 0.66 - 0.71 0.37 - 0.43 0.50 - 0.55 0.65 - 0.70 0.83 - 0.92 1.14 - 1.24 1.31 - 1.49
6-11 451 0.00 0.89 0.83 0.56 0.65 0.78 1.03 1.34 1.60
0.84 - 0.94 0.80 - 0.86 0.53 - 0.59 0.62 - 0.67 0.74 - 0.81 0.96 - 1.09 1.22 - 1.46 1.37 - 1.84
12-19 456 0.22 0.72 0.65 0.39 0.49 0.63 0.83 1.09 1.26
0.67 - 0.78 0.60 - 0.71 0.35 - 0.43 0.45 - 0.53 0.55 - 0.71 0.72 - 0.94 0.98 - 1.19 1.13 - 1.39
20-39 651 0.15 0.75 0.67 0.40 0.51 0.64 0.85 1.19 1.42
0.69 - 0.81 0.64 - 0.71 0.35 - 0.44 0.48 - 0.54 0.61 - 0.68 0.78 - 0.92 0.99 - 1.39 1.17 - 1.68
40-59 643 0.00 0.70 0.64 0.37 0.50 0.64 0.82 1.11 1.26
0.66 - 0.74 0.60 - 0.68 0.33 - 0.42 0.46 - 0.54 0.60 - 0.68 0.75 - 0.90 1.00 - 1.22 1.16 - 1.35
60-79 542 0.00 0.88 0.77 0.44 0.58 0.75 0.99 1.33 1.64
0.82 - 0.93 0.74 - 0.80 0.39 - 0.50 0.55 - 0.62 0.72 - 0.78 0.93 - 1.05 1.28 - 1.38 1.48 - 1.81
Table 8.1.8b
Molybdenum - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5492 0.00 53.08 36.30 10.12 20.21 40.41 70.60 107.80 138.28
49.50 - 56.66 33.20 - 39.68 8.58 - 11.65 17.18 - 23.23 37.51 - 43.31 66.71 - 74.48 99.90 - 115.69 128.01 - 148.55
6-11 1034 0.00 75.52 56.46 19.42 34.83 60.31 101.86 146.49 174.11
68.90 - 82.13 50.21 - 63.48 15.14 - 23.69 30.05 - 39.61 52.12 - 68.49 94.18 - 109.54 134.78 - 158.20 161.10 - 187.11
12-19 983 0.00 74.32 53.74 15.42 33.18 62.96 100.18 134.76 172.91
65.34 - 83.29 46.47 - 62.15 11.25 - 19.59 24.49 - 41.87 55.38 - 70.54 88.69 - 111.67 119.78 - 149.75 149.75 - 196.08
20-39 1169 0.00 55.40 37.81 10.43 20.41 44.07 73.51 106.37 138.78
49.63 - 61.17 33.22 - 43.05 7.45 - 13.41 16.01 - 24.80 38.80 - 49.34 67.82 - 79.20 96.49 - 116.25 113.29 - 164.27
40-59 1223 0.00 44.64 30.52 8.79 16.00 33.63 60.12 94.71 117.92
41.70 - 47.58 28.10 - 33.14 7.04 - 10.55 12.74 - 19.27 30.82 - 36.44 55.97 - 64.27 83.44 - 105.99 103.00 - 132.85
60-79 1083 0.00 41.96 30.35 9.88 17.96 32.31 54.50 83.00 106.63
39.42 - 44.50 27.66 - 33.31 8.35 - 11.40 15.46 - 20.45 28.94 - 35.69 50.92 - 58.08 74.11 - 91.88 96.19 - 117.07
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
5492 0.00 53.08 36.30 10.12 20.21 40.41 70.60 107.80 138.28
49.50 - 56.66 33.20 - 39.68 8.58 - 11.65 17.18 - 23.23 37.51 - 43.31 66.71 - 74.48 99.90 - 115.69 128.01 - 148.55
6-11 1034 0.00 75.52 56.46 19.42 34.83 60.31 101.86 146.49 174.11
68.90 - 82.13 50.21 - 63.48 15.14 - 23.69 30.05 - 39.61 52.12 - 68.49 94.18 - 109.54 134.78 - 158.20 161.10 - 187.11
12-19 983 0.00 74.32 53.74 15.42 33.18 62.96 100.18 134.76 172.91
65.34 - 83.29 46.47 - 62.15 11.25 - 19.59 24.49 - 41.87 55.38 - 70.54 88.69 - 111.67 119.78 - 149.75 149.75 - 196.08
20-39 1169 0.00 55.40 37.81 10.43 20.41 44.07 73.51 106.37 138.78
49.63 - 61.17 33.22 - 43.05 7.45 - 13.41 16.01 - 24.80 38.80 - 49.34 67.82 - 79.20 96.49 - 116.25 113.29 - 164.27
40-59 1223 0.00 44.64 30.52 8.79 16.00 33.63 60.12 94.71 117.92
41.70 - 47.58 28.10 - 33.14 7.04 - 10.55 12.74 - 19.27 30.82 - 36.44 55.97 - 64.27 83.44 - 105.99 103.00 - 132.85
60-79 1083 0.00 41.96 30.35 9.88 17.96 32.31 54.50 83.00 106.63
39.42 - 44.50 27.66 - 33.31 8.35 - 11.40 15.46 - 20.45 28.94 - 35.69 50.92 - 58.08 74.11 - 91.88 96.19 - 117.07
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2830 0.00 47.22 31.23 8.60 16.56 34.29 62.85 98.38 120.80
42.63 - 51.81 27.68 - 35.23 6.66 - 10.54 13.70 - 19.42 30.30 - 38.28 57.35 - 68.34 90.73 - 106.03 108.62 - 132.99
6-11 510 0.00 72.12 54.03 17.73 33.51 58.38 100.04 141.34 169.78
61.75 - 82.49 46.97 - 62.14 13.37 - 22.10 27.83 - 39.19 48.97 - 67.80 86.17 - 113.91 113.37 - 169.31 143.34 - 196.21
12-19 478 0.00 72.02 50.16 12.96 28.13 58.41 104.70 134.54 168.53
61.16 - 82.87 40.41 - 62.27 7.74 - 18.18 18.87 - 37.40 48.27 - 68.56 89.84 - 119.57 113.93 - 155.15 142.69 - 194.37
20-39 655 0.00 50.40 34.08 9.47 18.13 39.07 68.87 95.10 114.55
41.31 - 59.49 28.55 - 40.69 5.65 - 13.29 13.45 - 22.81 31.81 - 46.33 59.06 - 78.68 85.85 - 104.35 93.11 - 135.99
40-59 645 0.00 36.79 24.50 6.19 13.23 27.63 51.02 75.30 99.08
33.09 - 40.49 21.53 - 27.88 3.99 - 8.38 10.77 - 15.69 23.75 - 31.50 45.37 - 56.66 65.46 - 85.14 89.46 - 108.70
60-79 542 0.00 36.68 25.72 8.12 14.67 27.19 48.86 74.11 91.95
32.74 - 40.62 22.03 - 30.03 5.99 - 10.24 11.37 - 17.97 21.80 - 32.58 45.18 - 52.54 68.17 - 80.04 73.98 - 109.92
Table 8.1.8c
Molybdenum (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5479 0.00 53.67 43.89 20.59 29.78 43.20 64.11 95.98 121.58
50.70 - 56.64 41.89 - 45.98 19.17 - 22.02 28.11 - 31.44 41.82 - 44.58 61.15 - 67.07 88.68 - 103.28 112.49 - 130.67
6-11 1031 0.00 100.32 87.00 46.89 62.77 84.59 121.86 173.32 217.99
95.10 - 105.53 83.51 - 90.64 43.45 - 50.33 60.39 - 65.16 79.41 - 89.78 114.29 - 129.42 153.07 - 193.57 194.33 - 241.64
12-19 982 0.00 56.26 46.79 22.12 32.06 46.80 69.75 96.88 114.07
50.26 - 62.26 42.90 - 51.02 19.46 - 24.77 27.99 - 36.13 42.66 - 50.94 63.23 - 76.28 84.01 - 109.75 101.92 - 126.21
20-39 1165 0.00 50.78 42.19 20.19 29.80 42.44 59.30 87.36 112.16
46.37 - 55.19 39.72 - 44.82 17.97 - 22.41 27.12 - 32.47 39.50 - 45.37 54.88 - 63.72 75.86 - 98.85 94.91 - 129.41
40-59 1218 0.00 46.60 39.08 19.84 26.46 39.11 54.79 82.17 107.33
43.64 - 49.56 36.41 - 41.95 16.93 - 22.75 23.38 - 29.54 36.67 - 41.55 50.00 - 59.57 77.49 - 86.85 95.57 - 119.09
60-79 1083 0.00 51.29 42.45 19.44 29.42 43.04 61.46 88.48 111.51
48.45 - 54.13 39.34 - 45.80 16.52 - 22.35 26.26 - 32.57 40.08 - 46.00 56.41 - 66.52 82.12 - 94.83 99.70 - 123.32
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2653 0.00 51.03 41.65 19.86 27.31 40.58 61.18 90.81 117.53
47.84 - 54.22 39.95 - 43.42 18.44 - 21.27 25.41 - 29.21 38.97 - 42.19 56.89 - 65.46 81.68 - 99.94 107.02 - 128.04
6-11 522 0.00 103.21 89.36 48.06 64.94 87.52 123.72 182.14 226.52
95.67 - 110.76 83.55 - 95.57 41.28 - 54.85 61.14 - 68.73 80.72 - 94.32 114.99 - 132.45 153.41 - 210.86 200.83 - 252.22
12-19 504 0.00 58.68 48.24 23.04 32.45 48.82 72.32 100.50 114.51
50.73 - 66.64 43.67 - 53.28 20.73 - 25.34 27.62 - 37.28 44.47 - 53.16 65.29 - 79.35 85.68 - 115.32 92.78 - 136.24
20-39 512 0.00 45.55 38.40 18.09 25.70 38.93 57.16 80.77 97.49
41.27 - 49.83 35.81 - 41.19 16.43 - 19.75 21.66 - 29.73 35.46 - 42.41 50.93 - 63.39 67.16 - 94.39 73.78 - 121.20
40-59 574 0.00 44.49 37.46 20.02 25.20 36.65 51.37 80.77 105.08
40.80 - 48.17 35.04 - 40.05 17.62 - 22.41 23.36 - 27.04 34.80 - 38.50 47.08 - 55.66 70.93 - 90.61 84.70 - 125.46
60-79 541 0.00 45.54 38.33 18.22 26.45 38.26 56.04 77.76 97.54
42.11 - 48.97 34.63 - 42.43 14.99 - 21.45 22.84 - 30.06 34.40 - 42.11 50.22 - 61.85 69.61 - 85.90 85.34 - 109.74
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2826 0.00 56.30 46.24 21.52 31.94 45.93 66.36 100.92 127.94
52.87 - 59.73 43.55 - 49.09 19.08 - 23.97 29.97 - 33.92 43.37 - 48.48 62.54 - 70.18 91.68 - 110.15 115.75 - 140.14
6-11 509 0.00 97.26 84.59 46.66 59.66 81.40 118.18 164.77 196.53
88.59 - 105.94 79.00 - 90.58 42.27 - 51.05 54.87 - 64.45 75.34 - 87.45 104.37 - 131.99 140.07 - 189.46 153.78 - 239.28
12-19 478 0.00 53.61 45.25 20.68 31.01 44.33 67.03 90.61 113.55
47.53 - 59.70 40.57 - 50.47 17.49 - 23.86 25.84 - 36.17 38.28 - 50.38 58.31 - 75.75 71.25 - 109.97 101.51 - 125.60
20-39 653 0.00 56.05 46.39 24.40 31.92 45.73 62.24 96.75 127.61
48.98 - 63.12 42.34 - 50.83 22.62 - 26.19 30.22 - 33.62 41.37 - 50.10 54.57 - 69.92 79.36 - 114.14 80.82 - 174.40
40-59 644 0.00 48.68 40.75 19.08 28.53 41.39 60.17 86.43 107.84
44.59 - 52.77 37.01 - 44.86 14.70 - 23.46 23.32 - 33.73 38.12 - 44.66 54.55 - 65.79 74.36 - 98.50 93.47 - 122.21
60-79 542 0.00 56.57 46.62 20.61 32.70 48.32 68.63 94.57 125.21
53.25 - 59.88 42.93 - 50.62 16.01 - 25.21 27.92 - 37.47 42.30 - 54.34 60.30 - 76.95 83.63 - 105.51 111.61 - 138.81
References
  • Clark, N.A., Teschke, K., Rideout, K., & Copes, R. (2007). Trace element levels in adults from the west coast of Canada and associations with age, gender, diet, activities, and levels of other trace elements. Chemosphere, 70, 155-14.
  • Health Canada. (2005). Dietary Reference Intake Tables. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index_e.html
  • IMOA (International Molybdenum Association). (2007a). Molybdenum Properties. Retrieved February 19, 2010, from www.imoa.info/index.html
  • IMOA (International Molybdenum Association). (2007b). Molybdenum Metal and Alloys. Retrieved February 19, 2010, from www.imoa.info/index.html
  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publiquedu Québec.
  • IOM (Institute of Medicine). (2001). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. A Report of the Panel on Micronutrients, Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and of Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
  • Turnlund, J.R., Keyes, W.R., Peiffer, G.L., & Chiang, G. (1995). Molybdenum absorption, excretion, and retention studied with stable isotopes in young men during depletion and repletion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61(5), 1102-09.
  • US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). (1993). Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Molybdenum (CASRN 7439-98-7).
  • WHO (World Health Organization). (1996). Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. Volume 2 - Health Criteria and Other Supporting Information. 2nd Edition. Retrieved February 22, 2010, from www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwq2v1/en/index1.html
  • WHO (World Health Organization). (2003). Molybdenum in Drinking-water. Background Document for Development of Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. Retrieved February 19, 2010, from www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/molibdenum/en/

8.1.9 Nickel (CASRN 7440-02-0)

Nickel (Ni) is a naturally occurring metal found in many types of rock. It is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth's crust and in its pure form is hard and silvery-white. However, nickel occurs most frequently in combination with sulphur, arsenic, and antimony. Nickel is a very reactive heavy metal that forms various divalent compounds, including nickel sulphate, nickel oxide, nickel sulphide, nickel subsulphide, and nickel carbonate. Canada was ranked as the second largest producer of nickel in the world in 1990, with Ontario (Sudbury) and Manitoba (Thompson) producing 65% and 35%, respectively, of the Canadian nickel (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1994).

Due to its unique physical properties, nickel is commonly combined with other metals, including iron, copper, chromium, and zinc to form alloys. Nickel alloys are used in metal coins, jewellery, and heat exchangers. Nickel compounds are used in nickel plating, batteries, ceramic colouring, and as catalysts to increase rates of chemical reactions. Nickel is also a component of stainless steel, which has widespread application in a variety of home, medical, and industrial settings (ATSDR, 2005; CCME, 1996).

Nickel is released into the environment as a result of natural processes, including weathering of geological deposits, and also as a result of human activities, including mining, smelting, refining and other metal operations, fuel combustion, electric power generation and waste incineration (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1994).

Given its natural abundance in the environment, everyone is exposed to small amounts of nickel. The main source of exposure for the general population is food. Other sources of nickel exposure include air, drinking water, soil, and household dust. Nickel exposure can also occur through dermal contact with alloys containing nickel (e.g., jewellery), and through dermal contact with nickel-containing products, such as cosmetics (generally present as an impurity); household cleaning and bleaching agents; and, medical products, such as joint implants, intrauterine devices, and acupuncture needles (ATSDR, 2005; Basketter et al., 2003). Nickel exposure can also occur from inhalation of cigarette smoke (ATSDR, 2005).

Nickel and nickel compounds are absorbed from the respiratory tract and to a lesser extent, from the gastrointestinal tract and skin. Approximately 20-35% of inhaled nickel is absorbed into the blood from the respiratory tract following inhalation (ATSDR, 2005), while only 1-10% of ingested nickel is absorbed, depending largely on the composition of the diet (WHO, 1991). Nickel has been measured in a variety of organs, including the lungs, thyroid, adrenals, kidneys, heart, liver, brain, spleen, and pancreas (ATSDR, 2005). Nickel is excreted in urine and feces, and has an estimated elimination half-life of 17 to 48 hours (Nieboer & Fletcher, 2001). Nickel can be measured in urine, serum, whole blood, feces, hair, sweat, and breast milk; urine is the most commonly used matrix for biological monitoring of nickel (Sunderman, 1993).

Studies indicate that nickel is an essential element in a number of laboratory animal species, and it has been postulated to be an essential element in humans (Environment Canada & Health Canada, 1994). Although there may be benefits from small doses of nickel, exposure to high levels may result in adverse health effects. These effects are dependent on the route of exposure and, in the case of inhalation, the species of nickel. Allergy to nickel is common and can cause severe contact dermatitis. The condition can be painful, but is not life threatening and can be managed by avoiding extended contact between the skin and nickel-containing jewellery, buttons, belt buckles, and similar items (ATSDR, 2005).

Health Canada and Environment Canada assessed nickel and its various compounds and concluded that metallic nickel was not a concern for human health at current levels of exposure (Environment Canada and Health Canada, 1994). However, the "oxidic" (including nickel oxide, nickel-copper oxide, nickel-silicate oxides, and complex oxides), "sulphidic" (including nickel subsulphide), and "soluble" (primarily nickel sulphate and nickel chloride) nickel groups, as a whole, are entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

Health Canada has classified metallic nickel as VI: unclassifiable with respect to carcinogenicity in humans (Health Canada, 1996). However, oxidic, sulphidic, and soluble nickel are classified as a human carcinogen (Group I) for inhalation exposure (Health Canada, 1996). Health Canada (2005) has adopted Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for nickel (IOM, 2001). The UL for nickel is 0.2 to 0.6 mg/day for children aged 1-13, and 1.0 mg/day for those over the age of 14 (Health Canada, 2005).

In a study carried out in 2001 in the Québec City region, in 500 participants aged 18-65, the geometric mean and 90th percentile values of nickel in blood were <0.59 µg/L and 0.85 µg/L, respectively. The geometric mean and 90th percentile values of nickel in urine were 1.78 µg/L and 4.46 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004).

Nickel was measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey and is presented as µg/L blood and both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.9a, 8.1.9b, 8.1.9c). Finding a measurable amount of nickel in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to nickel and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of nickel in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.9a
Nickel - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5319 6.69 0.75 0.62 <LOD 0.47 0.58 0.59 1.23 1.70
0.65 - 0.84 0.55 - 0.68 <LOD - 0.45 0.40 - 0.53 0.53 - 0.63 <LOD - 1.03 1.00 - 1.46 1.32 - 2.08
6-11 910 6.37 0.86 0.67 <LOD 0.47 0.55 1.06 1.52 2.13
0.72 - 1.01 0.59 - 0.76 <LOD - 0.42 0.43 - 0.52 0.54 - 0.56 0.45 - 1.66 1.17 - 1.87 1.53 - 2.74
12-19 945 7.20 0.78 0.63 <LOD 0.45 0.55 0.92 1.40 1.78
0.65 - 0.92 0.55 - 0.72 <LOD - 0.42 0.40 - 0.50 0.54 - 0.56 0.38 - 1.45 1.01 - 1.79 1.41 - 2.15
20-39 1165 6.95 0.72 0.61 <LOD 0.50 0.56 0.58 1.18 1.58
0.65 - 0.79 0.56 - 0.66 <LOD - 0.44 0.43 - 0.57 0.54 - 0.59 <LOD - 0.83 0.99 - 1.37 1.15 - 2.02
40-59 1220 6.80 0.72 0.60 <LOD 0.46 0.58 0.59 1.19 1.64
0.61 - 0.83 0.53 - 0.69 <LOD - 0.46 0.38 - 0.54 0.52 - 0.63 <LOD - 0.94 0.94 - 1.43 1.22 - 2.06
60-79 1079 6.12 0.78 0.63 <LOD 0.47 0.57 0.92 1.22 1.64
0.67 - 0.89 0.57 - 0.70 <LOD - 0.43 0.41 - 0.52 0.54 - 0.60 0.37 - 1.48 1.04 - 1.40 1.10 - 2.18
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2576 6.72 0.72 0.60 <LOD 0.47 0.55 0.58 1.19 1.52
0.63 - 0.81 0.54 - 0.67 <LOD - 0.45 0.42 - 0.51 0.53 - 0.56 <LOD - 0.95 1.00 - 1.39 1.19 - 1.86
6-11 459 8.06 0.87 0.66 <LOD 0.46 0.55 1.03 1.53 2.26
0.71 - 1.02 0.58 - 0.74 <LOD - 0.36 0.40 - 0.52 0.54 - 0.56 0.39 - 1.68 1.20 - 1.85 1.59 - 2.94
12-19 489 7.98 0.77 0.62 <LOD 0.45 0.55 1.00 1.41 1.77
0.65 - 0.90 0.55 - 0.70 <LOD - 0.38 0.41 - 0.48 0.54 - 0.56 0.44 - 1.57 1.06 - 1.76 1.40 - 2.13
20-39 514 5.84 0.67 0.59 <LOD 0.47 0.55 0.58 1.16 1.32
0.58 - 0.77 0.53 - 0.65 <LOD - 0.46 0.43 - 0.51 0.53 - 0.56 0.45 - 0.71 1.06 - 1.26 1.15 - 1.48
40-59 577 6.93 0.69 0.59 0.36 0.46 0.54 0.58 1.17 1.46
0.59 - 0.79 0.51 - 0.68 <LOD - 0.49 0.40 - 0.52 0.53 - 0.56 <LOD - 0.97 0.92 - 1.43 1.05 - 1.88
60-79 537 5.03 0.77 0.63 <LOD 0.46 0.55 0.89 1.27 1.73
0.68 - 0.87 0.57 - 0.69 <LOD - 0.43 0.41 - 0.52 0.54 - 0.57 0.37 - 1.41 1.05 - 1.49 1.15 - 2.30
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 6.67 0.77 0.63 <LOD 0.46 0.58 0.59 1.29 1.83
0.67 - 0.88 0.56 - 0.70 <LOD - 0.45 0.39 - 0.53 0.53 - 0.63 <LOD - 1.11 0.98 - 1.60 1.42 - 2.25
6-11 451 4.66 0.86 0.68 0.37 0.48 0.55 1.09 1.43 1.91
0.69 - 1.04 0.59 - 0.78 <LOD - 0.46 0.44 - 0.53 0.54 - 0.57 0.59 - 1.59 1.04 - 1.82 1.19 - 2.63
12-19 456 6.36 0.80 0.63 <LOD 0.45 0.55 0.59 1.39 1.80
0.63 - 0.96 0.53 - 0.75 <LOD - 0.46 0.38 - 0.51 0.54 - 0.56 <LOD - 1.34 0.92 - 1.86 1.26 - 2.35
20-39 651 7.83 0.77 0.63 <LOD 0.47 0.57 0.59 1.34 1.96
0.69 - 0.85 0.57 - 0.69 <LOD - 0.43 0.41 - 0.53 0.54 - 0.59 <LOD - 1.10 0.89 - 1.79 1.53 - 2.39
40-59 643 6.69 0.75 0.61 <LOD 0.44 0.58 0.59 1.24 1.79
0.62 - 0.88 0.53 - 0.70 <LOD - 0.45 0.37 - 0.52 0.52 - 0.63 <LOD - 0.94 0.98 - 1.51 1.33 - 2.24
60-79 542 7.20 0.78 0.63 <LOD 0.47 0.57 0.95 1.17 1.59
0.64 - 0.93 0.55 - 0.72 <LOD - 0.42 0.40 - 0.54 0.54 - 0.60 0.36 - 1.54 0.99 - 1.35 1.04 - 2.14
Table 8.1.9b
Nickel - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5491 3.15 1.62 1.10 0.35 0.65 1.16 2.03 3.28 4.47
1.53 - 1.71 1.04 - 1.18 0.31 - 0.38 0.61 - 0.69 1.09 - 1.23 1.90 - 2.16 3.01 - 3.55 4.08 - 4.85
6-11 1034 2.80 1.91 1.30 0.38 0.79 1.43 2.54 3.79 5.03
1.64 - 2.17 1.10 - 1.55 0.24 - 0.52 0.68 - 0.90 1.21 - 1.66 2.18 - 2.90 3.32 - 4.26 4.26 - 5.81
12-19 983 1.73 2.12 1.52 0.49 0.99 1.61 2.59 4.20 5.33
1.91 - 2.34 1.38 - 1.69 0.38 - 0.59 0.88 - 1.10 1.53 - 1.69 2.32 - 2.85 3.62 - 4.79 4.22 - 6.45
20-39 1168 3.68 1.43 1.00 0.32 0.63 1.06 1.76 2.79 3.71
1.28 - 1.58 0.89 - 1.13 0.27 - 0.37 0.56 - 0.70 0.95 - 1.16 1.53 - 2.00 2.37 - 3.21 3.15 - 4.28
40-59 1223 5.07 1.56 1.03 0.33 0.59 1.06 2.02 3.20 4.63
1.46 - 1.66 0.96 - 1.12 0.29 - 0.37 0.53 - 0.65 0.95 - 1.17 1.87 - 2.17 2.84 - 3.55 3.34 - 5.91
60-79 1083 2.03 1.64 1.13 0.40 0.65 1.13 1.95 3.27 4.68
1.49 - 1.78 1.06 - 1.21 0.35 - 0.46 0.59 - 0.72 1.07 - 1.19 1.80 - 2.11 2.66 - 3.88 3.82 - 5.53
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2662 2.85 1.66 1.15 0.38 0.71 1.19 2.04 3.46 4.57
1.55 - 1.77 1.09 - 1.21 0.35 - 0.42 0.66 - 0.76 1.13 - 1.26 1.89 - 2.19 3.06 - 3.87 3.80 - 5.33
6-11 524 3.05 1.88 1.30 0.36 0.87 1.49 2.63 3.66 4.63
1.56 - 2.20 1.01 - 1.67 <LOD - 0.57 0.65 - 1.08 1.16 - 1.82 2.15 - 3.11 3.10 - 4.23 4.03 - 5.22
12-19 505 1.19 1.93 1.43 0.47 0.98 1.49 2.26 3.80 4.81
1.68 - 2.19 1.27 - 1.60 0.37 - 0.57 0.85 - 1.11 1.32 - 1.66 2.01 - 2.52 2.86 - 4.74 3.14 - 6.48
20-39 514 3.89 1.43 1.01 0.33 0.68 1.08 1.62 2.82 3.77
1.21 - 1.64 0.90 - 1.12 0.23 - 0.43 0.59 - 0.78 1.00 - 1.16 1.31 - 1.93 2.05 - 3.59 3.02 - 4.51
40-59 578 4.33 1.66 1.12 0.38 0.63 1.13 2.06 3.54 5.44
1.46 - 1.86 0.99 - 1.26 0.30 - 0.47 0.52 - 0.74 0.93 - 1.32 1.74 - 2.38 2.99 - 4.09 4.51 - 6.37
60-79 541 1.66 1.78 1.25 0.47 0.72 1.27 2.14 3.73 5.54
1.52 - 2.05 1.14 - 1.38 0.43 - 0.51 0.65 - 0.80 1.12 - 1.41 1.76 - 2.52 2.69 - 4.76 3.56 - 7.52
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2829 3.43 1.58 1.06 0.33 0.60 1.11 2.03 3.15 4.37
1.47 - 1.70 0.97 - 1.17 0.28 - 0.37 0.52 - 0.67 0.98 - 1.24 1.88 - 2.18 2.93 - 3.37 3.71 - 5.03
6-11 510 2.55 1.94 1.31 0.43 0.78 1.35 2.36 3.95 5.44
1.68 - 2.19 1.16 - 1.48 0.30 - 0.57 0.70 - 0.85 1.14 - 1.57 1.98 - 2.74 3.37 - 4.53 4.48 - 6.40
12-19 478 2.30 2.33 1.64 0.49 0.99 1.85 3.02 4.42 5.75
2.06 - 2.60 1.40 - 1.93 0.23 - 0.75 0.81 - 1.17 1.63 - 2.07 2.67 - 3.38 3.55 - 5.29 4.00 - 7.50
20-39 654 3.52 1.43 1.00 0.31 0.59 1.05 1.82 2.78 3.36
1.22 - 1.64 0.82 - 1.20 0.21 - 0.41 0.50 - 0.69 0.85 - 1.26 1.42 - 2.21 2.38 - 3.18 2.25 - 4.47
40-59 645 5.74 1.46 0.96 0.31 0.51 1.03 1.94 3.01 3.79
1.30 - 1.62 0.85 - 1.08 0.23 - 0.39 0.41 - 0.60 0.87 - 1.20 1.75 - 2.13 2.63 - 3.38 2.08 - 5.51
60-79 542 2.40 1.50 1.03 0.34 0.59 1.03 1.77 3.02 4.30
1.35 - 1.64 0.92 - 1.14 0.25 - 0.43 0.50 - 0.67 0.89 - 1.17 1.57 - 1.96 2.46 - 3.58 3.35 - 5.25
Table 8.1.9c
Nickel (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5478 3.16 1.77 1.34 0.56 0.83 1.32 2.08 3.27 4.51
1.66 - 1.89 1.27 - 1.41 0.53 - 0.58 0.78 - 0.88 1.26 - 1.39 1.97 - 2.19 2.95 - 3.60 3.97 - 5.04
6-11 1031 2.81 2.59 2.00 0.86 1.34 2.02 3.02 4.46 5.69
2.25 - 2.93 1.78 - 2.26 0.70 - 1.02 1.24 - 1.44 1.79 - 2.25 2.70 - 3.34 3.86 - 5.06 4.61 - 6.76
12-19 982 1.73 1.72 1.33 0.58 0.84 1.32 2.04 3.27 4.00
1.55 - 1.90 1.23 - 1.44 0.52 - 0.63 0.79 - 0.88 1.19 - 1.46 1.74 - 2.34 2.67 - 3.86 3.67 - 4.34
20-39 1164 3.69 1.45 1.12 0.47 0.72 1.13 1.69 2.61 3.91
1.30 - 1.60 1.02 - 1.23 0.42 - 0.52 0.66 - 0.78 1.01 - 1.26 1.53 - 1.85 2.22 - 3.00 2.92 - 4.89
40-59 1218 5.09 1.75 1.33 0.57 0.83 1.31 2.06 3.19 4.46
1.61 - 1.89 1.26 - 1.40 0.53 - 0.62 0.75 - 0.91 1.22 - 1.41 1.97 - 2.15 2.85 - 3.54 3.52 - 5.40
60-79 1083 2.03 2.10 1.58 0.67 0.98 1.57 2.43 3.88 5.27
1.92 - 2.29 1.50 - 1.66 0.59 - 0.76 0.90 - 1.06 1.48 - 1.67 2.29 - 2.58 3.42 - 4.34 4.76 - 5.79
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2653 2.86 1.50 1.13 0.49 0.70 1.09 1.75 2.79 3.78
1.37 - 1.63 1.06 - 1.20 0.45 - 0.52 0.66 - 0.74 1.03 - 1.15 1.61 - 1.88 2.51 - 3.07 3.22 - 4.34
6-11 522 3.07 2.54 1.96 0.83 1.33 2.06 2.90 4.30 5.25
2.14 - 2.93 1.72 - 2.24 <LOD - 1.03 1.13 - 1.53 1.72 - 2.40 2.59 - 3.21 3.90 - 4.71 3.51 - 6.99
12-19 504 1.19 1.54 1.20 0.55 0.74 1.08 1.83 3.00 4.14
1.42 - 1.67 1.11 - 1.29 0.47 - 0.63 0.65 - 0.84 0.94 - 1.21 1.59 - 2.07 2.32 - 3.68 3.39 - 4.88
20-39 512 3.91 1.16 0.92 0.40 0.59 0.90 1.40 2.02 2.78
0.97 - 1.36 0.81 - 1.06 0.35 - 0.45 0.50 - 0.68 0.77 - 1.03 1.12 - 1.67 1.58 - 2.47 1.98 - 3.58
40-59 574 4.36 1.47 1.10 0.50 0.68 1.07 1.65 2.59 3.48
1.26 - 1.67 1.01 - 1.20 0.44 - 0.57 0.61 - 0.74 0.98 - 1.17 1.43 - 1.87 2.17 - 3.00 2.62 - 4.34
60-79 541 1.66 1.71 1.32 0.57 0.86 1.24 2.02 3.20 4.82
1.48 - 1.94 1.21 - 1.45 0.49 - 0.64 0.80 - 0.92 1.12 - 1.37 1.75 - 2.29 2.60 - 3.81 3.20 - 6.43
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2825 3.43 2.05 1.58 0.70 1.02 1.53 2.33 3.82 5.16
1.86 - 2.23 1.47 - 1.69 0.64 - 0.76 0.93 - 1.11 1.44 - 1.62 2.12 - 2.54 3.27 - 4.37 4.25 - 6.06
6-11 509 2.55 2.65 2.05 0.93 1.34 1.97 3.18 4.81 5.72
2.27 - 3.02 1.82 - 2.31 0.76 - 1.11 1.25 - 1.42 1.78 - 2.16 2.70 - 3.66 4.00 - 5.62 4.50 - 6.94
12-19 478 2.30 1.92 1.48 0.64 0.95 1.53 2.23 3.34 3.92
1.65 - 2.19 1.31 - 1.68 0.47 - 0.80 0.81 - 1.10 1.35 - 1.71 1.82 - 2.64 2.77 - 3.92 3.30 - 4.54
20-39 652 3.53 1.74 1.36 0.63 0.89 1.31 2.03 3.29 4.59
1.51 - 1.97 1.18 - 1.57 0.52 - 0.74 0.74 - 1.03 1.12 - 1.49 1.81 - 2.25 2.22 - 4.36 3.68 - 5.50
40-59 644 5.75 2.02 1.60 0.73 1.06 1.56 2.27 3.69 4.96
1.82 - 2.23 1.48 - 1.72 0.65 - 0.81 0.91 - 1.20 1.42 - 1.69 1.98 - 2.57 2.95 - 4.43 3.63 - 6.30
60-79 542 2.40 2.46 1.86 0.81 1.17 1.89 2.70 4.25 5.89
2.09 - 2.84 1.71 - 2.02 0.66 - 0.96 0.99 - 1.34 1.76 - 2.02 2.36 - 3.03 3.47 - 5.03 4.78 - 7.01
References
  • ATSDR (Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). (2005). Toxicological Profile for nickel. Retrieved February 22, 2010, from www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp15.html
  • Basketter, D.A., Angelini, G., Ingber, A., Kern, P.S., & Menné T. (2003). Nickel, chromium and cobalt in consumer products: revisiting safe levels in the new millennium. Contact Dermatitis, 49(1), 1-7.
  • CCME (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment). (1996). Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for Contaminated Sites: Nickel (Environmental Effects). National Contaminated Sites Remediation Program.
  • Environment Canada & Health Canada. (1994). Canadian Environmental Protection Act Priority Substances List Assessment: Nickel and its Compounds. Retrieved December 4, 2009, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/contaminants/psl1-lsp1/compounds_nickel_ composes/index-eng.php
  • Health Canada. (1996). Canadian Environmental Protection Act - Priority Substances List. Supporting Documentation: Health-Based Tolerable Daily Intakes/Concentrations and Tumourigenic Doses/Concentrations for Priority Substances (Unedited Version). Ottawa: Environmental Health Centre.
  • Health Canada. (2005). Dietary Reference Intake Tables. Retrieved March 4, 2010 from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index_e.html
  • INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec). (2004). Étude sur l'établissement de valeurs de référence d'éléments traces et de métaux dans le sang, le sérum et l'urine de la population de la grande région de Québec. Cote: INSPQ-2004-030. Québec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • IOM (Institute of Medicine). (2001). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. A Report of the Panel on Micronutrients, Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and of Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
  • Nieboer, E., & Fletcher, G.G. (2001). Toxicological Profile and Related Health Issues: Nickel (for Physicians). McMaster University, Department of Biochemistry. Provided by Regional Niagara Public Health Department, April 11, 2001.
  • Sunderman, F.W. Jr. (1993). Biological Monitoring of Nickel in Humans. Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment & Health, 19, Suppl.1, 34-38.
  • WHO (World Health Organization). (1991). Environmental Health Criteria 108: Nickel. International Programme on Chemical Safety. Geneva.

8.1.10 Selenium (CASRN 7782-49-2)

Selenium (Se) is a naturally occurring essential element that comprises a small fraction of the Earth's crust. It is a metalloid and cannot be broken down, but can be transformed by sunlight, water, and air to various oxidation states and forms. Selenium is present in the environment in inorganic form as selenide (Se2-), selenate (SeO42-), and selenite (SeO32-). It is widely distributed in the Earth's crust at concentrations averaging 0.09 mg/kg and is found in trace quantities in most plant and animal tissues (Schamberger, 1984). Selenium is an essential nutrient required for the maintenance of good health (ATSDR, 2003).

Elevated levels of selenium in the environment may occur naturally from weathering of heavy metal deposits and soils (CCME, 2007), or as the result of anthropogenic activities such as mining or metallurgical processes. Selenium is produced mainly as a by-product of copper refining and also from recycling of metal products. Other sources of selenium emissions include incinerator stacks, burning coal or oil, and any large-scale combustion processes due to the widespread distribution of selenium in nature.

Canada is one of the largest selenium producers and exporters globally. Historically, the primary use of selenium was in the electronics industry in the form of arsenic triselenide, used as a photoreceptor for photocopiers. However, arsenic triselenide has generally been replaced by more environmentally friendly compounds in recent years. As selenium has various electrical and conductive properties, it is also used in light meters, photoelectric and solar cells, semiconductors, and arc light electrodes. It is also used as a colourizing and decolourizing agent for glass and to reduce solar heat for architectural glass. It can be used to develop red, orange, and maroon pigments for ceramics, glazes, plastics, enamels, and paints, but this practice is generally restricted due to the potential for selenium toxicity. Selenium is also present in stainless steel, enamels, inks, rubber, pesticides, fungicides, batteries, explosives, and shampoos. Products containing selenium are generally considered non-toxic when used as directed, but the selenium may be released upon disposal if incinerated (CCME, 2007; ATSDR, 2003).

The Canadian population is exposed to selenium compounds in ambient air, drinking water, soil, and food. It is estimated that more than 98% of the total daily intake of selenium occurs through food consumption (IOM, 2000). Exposure to selenium may also occur from the use of therapeutic products, including shampoos used to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, and certain antifungal skin lotions. A Canadian study reported that adults consume an average of 113-220 μg selenium per day (Thompson et al., 1975).

Absorption of selenium is dependent on the chemical form, with organic forms (e.g., selenoamino acids such as selenomethionine and selenocysteine) absorbed more readily than inorganic forms, as well as on the overall exposure level, with absorption increasing when selenium levels in the body are low (IOM, 2000). Following ingestion, selenium is readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Selenium can also be absorbed through the lungs, with acidic forms absorbing more readily (CCME, 2007). Once inside the body, selenium generally concentrates in the liver and kidneys, regardless of the initial chemical form. Selenium can also be found in significant amounts in nails and hair (IOM, 2000). Approximately 50-80% of absorbed selenium is eliminated in the urine (Marier & Jaworski, 1983).

Selenium is an essential nutrient and a component of several proteins and enzymes in the body. Selenium aids in the defence of oxidative stress, the regulation of thyroid hormone action, and the regulation of the redox status of Vitamin C and other molecules (IOM, 2000). The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Canadians is 15 µg/day for young infants, 20-30 µg/day for children up to age 12, and 55 µg/day for adolescents and adults (Health Canada, 2005).

As is generally the case with essential trace elements, selenium can have detrimental health effects when ingested at levels much greater than the recommended daily intake. The level at which selenium toxicity occurs is difficult to determine, as it is affected by the types of protein in the diet, levels of vitamin E, and the various forms of selenium present in the body (Health Canada, 1992). The symptoms of selenium deficiency and excess are similar. Oral intake of large amounts of selenium can result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Chronic levels of high selenium can cause selenosis, a disease that results in hair loss, nail brittleness, and neurological abnormalities (IOM, 2000; ATSDR, 2003; WHO, 2003). There is no evidence in humans of reproductive effects or developmental abnormalities; the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that selenium is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3) (IARC, 1987).

Health Canada (2005) has adopted Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for selenium, which account for both its essentiality and its potential toxicity. The ULs for selenium are 45 µg/day for infants 0-6 months old, 60 µg/day for infants 7-12 months old, 90 μg/day for children 1-3 years old, 150 μg/day for children 4-8 years old, 280 μg/day for children 9-13 years old, and 400 μg/day for adolescents 14-18 years old and adults (IOM, 2000). A maximum acceptable concentration of 0.01 mg/L (10 µg/L) for selenium in drinking water has been established on the basis of health considerations and is currently under revision (Health Canada, 1992).

Selenium levels in the body following both short- and long-term exposure can be determined through blood and urine tests (IOM, 2000).

In a study carried out in the region of Québec City on adults aged 18-65, the geometric mean and 90th percentile values of selenium in urine were 63.19 µg/L and 132.65 µg/L, respectively. The geometric mean and 90th percentile values of selenium in blood were 221.17 µg/L and 261.45 µg/L, respectively (INSPQ, 2004).

Selenium was measured in the blood and urine of all participants aged 6-79 years in the Canadian Health Measures Survey and is presented as µg/L in blood and as both µg/L and µg/g creatinine in urine (Tables 8.1.10a, 8.1.10b, 8.1.10c). Finding a measurable amount of selenium in blood or urine is an indicator of exposure to selenium and does not necessarily mean that an adverse health effect will occur. Since it is an essential nutrient, its presence is expected. These data provide reference ranges for blood and urinary levels of selenium in the Canadian population.

Table 8.1.10a
Selenium - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of blood concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5319 0.00 204.01 201.56 168.90 182.76 199.70 219.49 241.39 253.25
199.73 - 208.28 197.55 - 205.66 164.62 - 173.17 178.57 - 186.95 196.22 - 203.18 214.75 - 224.22 235.53 - 247.25 245.31 - 261.20
6-11 910 0.00 188.36 186.86 159.81 171.59 185.43 201.13 217.45 231.76
185.29 - 191.43 183.89 - 189.88 155.73 - 163.89 167.91 - 175.26 182.48 - 188.37 199.19 - 203.07 213.48 - 221.42 222.47 - 241.04
12-19 945 0.00 198.29 196.17 165.45 178.05 194.52 212.46 238.47 251.07
193.77 - 202.82 191.65 - 200.80 160.50 - 170.39 173.52 - 182.58 191.24 - 197.79 206.15 - 218.76 230.64 - 246.30 237.22 - 264.93
20-39 1165 0.00 205.62 202.73 169.82 185.37 199.88 219.55 242.30 252.76
200.17 - 211.08 198.42 - 207.13 165.96 - 173.68 180.41 - 190.34 195.85 - 203.92 214.53 - 224.56 233.49 - 251.12 238.95 - 266.56
40-59 1220 0.00 206.15 203.94 171.43 184.34 202.81 223.74 243.59 255.01
201.63 - 210.67 199.51 - 208.47 166.14 - 176.73 179.46 - 189.22 198.23 - 207.39 217.63 - 229.84 236.47 - 250.71 245.42 - 264.61
60-79 1079 0.00 206.35 204.01 172.11 186.16 201.16 223.22 243.95 256.45
199.87 - 212.83 197.92 - 210.28 167.59 - 176.62 180.99 - 191.32 194.89 - 207.42 215.79 - 230.66 234.54 - 253.36 241.97 - 270.94
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2576 0.00 207.46 204.84 172.01 185.41 202.09 224.24 244.68 256.31
202.25 - 212.66 200.32 - 209.45 167.37 - 176.64 181.36 - 189.45 197.83 - 206.34 218.37 - 230.12 237.87 - 251.49 242.62 - 270.00
6-11 459 0.00 187.32 186.03 159.99 171.65 183.71 199.62 215.75 233.39
183.88 - 190.77 182.68 - 189.44 155.79 - 164.18 167.65 - 175.65 179.68 - 187.74 194.18 - 205.07 208.14 - 223.37 216.30 - 250.49
12-19 489 0.00 198.92 196.87 166.95 178.30 193.52 215.32 237.80 247.67
194.29 - 203.56 192.51 - 201.34 161.98 - 171.92 174.82 - 181.78 189.87 - 197.17 205.45 - 225.20 227.49 - 248.12 229.27 - 266.07
20-39 514 0.00 211.71 207.95 175.02 187.21 203.51 224.99 246.43 266.01
202.23 - 221.19 201.69 - 214.41 169.14 - 180.91 182.46 - 191.95 198.65 - 208.37 217.28 - 232.70 235.51 - 257.35 237.57 - 294.45
40-59 577 0.00 210.32 208.36 175.32 189.53 207.07 226.78 246.89 255.86
203.29 - 217.36 201.47 - 215.48 166.56 - 184.09 182.14 - 196.92 199.39 - 214.76 219.44 - 234.13 239.04 - 254.75 240.07 - 271.64
60-79 537 0.00 207.40 205.27 174.96 187.90 205.05 224.09 243.64 255.99
200.42 - 214.38 198.35 - 212.43 168.44 - 181.48 182.62 - 193.18 197.56 - 212.55 214.32 - 233.85 232.82 - 254.46 243.77 - 268.20
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2743 0.00 200.53 198.32 166.53 180.67 197.34 215.51 235.99 249.47
196.28 - 204.79 194.28 - 202.45 162.29 - 170.78 175.58 - 185.76 193.69 - 200.99 211.36 - 219.66 230.76 - 241.22 241.16 - 257.78
6-11 451 0.00 189.45 187.75 159.03 171.49 186.62 201.60 218.77 230.09
185.98 - 192.92 184.32 - 191.24 153.39 - 164.68 165.94 - 177.03 183.31 - 189.93 196.86 - 206.33 211.98 - 225.56 221.68 - 238.51
12-19 456 0.00 197.61 195.40 164.27 177.57 194.77 210.56 240.05 253.92
192.04 - 203.17 189.70 - 201.26 157.26 - 171.27 170.56 - 184.57 190.00 - 199.55 202.76 - 218.35 230.43 - 249.67 244.38 - 263.46
20-39 651 0.00 199.33 197.46 167.18 180.94 195.97 216.29 233.68 247.44
194.25 - 204.41 192.54 - 202.50 161.28 - 173.07 171.36 - 190.51 191.45 - 200.48 209.69 - 222.89 225.47 - 241.89 239.35 - 255.52
40-59 643 0.00 202.00 199.65 166.68 180.77 198.26 215.48 235.33 253.23
197.78 - 206.23 195.76 - 203.62 161.64 - 171.73 177.71 - 183.83 193.63 - 202.90 208.99 - 221.98 228.01 - 242.65 239.88 - 266.58
60-79 542 0.00 205.39 202.86 170.54 183.14 198.88 222.65 244.02 259.30
197.37 - 213.41 195.76 - 210.22 165.69 - 175.38 176.69 - 189.58 193.12 - 204.65 213.37 - 231.92 231.53 - 256.52 238.22 - 280.37
Table 8.1.10b
Selenium - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/L) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5492 0.46 63.05 48.86 16.97 30.46 53.68 85.52 121.07 143.65
58.25 - 67.86 44.72 - 53.38 14.41 - 19.53 26.75 - 34.17 48.68 - 58.69 79.54 - 91.50 111.68 - 130.45 136.37 - 150.93
6-11 1034 0.48 74.79 60.20 22.41 40.23 67.55 102.57 129.49 153.69
68.52 - 81.05 53.89 - 67.24 18.81 - 26.02 33.41 - 47.05 60.85 - 74.25 91.61 - 113.54 118.79 - 140.19 144.13 - 163.25
12-19 983 0.00 78.02 62.62 22.20 42.53 70.74 103.51 139.74 160.27
70.10 - 85.93 54.89 - 71.42 16.22 - 28.18 32.87 - 52.18 62.95 - 78.53 92.95 - 114.08 127.71 - 151.76 143.57 - 176.97
20-39 1169 0.77 63.16 48.63 17.39 31.00 53.43 84.60 124.08 144.70
55.34 - 70.98 42.40 - 55.78 13.50 - 21.28 26.51 - 35.48 44.34 - 62.52 75.25 - 93.94 106.95 - 141.22 134.77 - 154.64
40-59 1223 0.74 59.35 45.15 14.44 26.53 48.67 82.71 116.62 140.57
56.39 - 62.31 42.32 - 48.18 11.43 - 17.44 23.19 - 29.87 44.67 - 52.66 77.27 - 88.15 109.17 - 124.07 133.42 - 147.72
60-79 1083 0.18 55.31 44.75 17.36 28.07 49.47 72.54 99.52 121.54
51.57 - 59.04 41.33 - 48.46 14.06 - 20.65 23.15 - 32.99 45.38 - 53.57 67.98 - 77.11 87.46 - 111.58 107.88 - 135.19
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
2662 0.23 71.23 56.94 21.45 37.91 62.77 94.98 132.16 152.46
66.18 - 76.27 52.58 - 61.67 18.48 - 24.41 34.30 - 41.53 57.64 - 67.91 85.75 - 104.22 124.41 - 139.91 140.29 - 164.63
6-11 524 0.38 77.27 62.51 23.78 42.53 68.27 104.54 132.75 165.76
69.49 - 85.05 52.92 - 73.84 15.38 - 32.19 33.16 - 51.90 57.49 - 79.05 91.10 - 117.97 118.37 - 147.12 147.16 - 184.36
12-19 505 0.00 80.79 66.34 25.98 46.00 71.15 110.23 140.31 162.39
73.23 - 88.35 59.09 - 74.49 18.93 - 33.04 38.41 - 53.59 62.50 - 79.79 99.79 - 120.66 128.27 - 152.34 137.87 - 186.91
20-39 514 0.58 71.49 55.71 17.74 37.46 63.80 94.15 132.98 152.00
62.06 - 80.91 48.03 - 64.62 9.55 - 25.93 29.82 - 45.10 54.70 - 72.90 82.81 - 105.48 120.66 - 145.31 126.99 - 177.01
40-59 578 0.17 70.60 55.74 20.33 35.22 59.62 100.06 132.92 157.69
66.79 - 74.41 52.54 - 59.13 18.00 - 22.67 30.87 - 39.57 52.69 - 66.54 91.18 - 108.93 122.02 - 143.83 145.49 - 169.90
60-79 541 0.00 62.35 53.26 23.05 38.10 55.66 78.57 109.17 134.63
56.57 - 68.12 48.83 - 58.08 20.99 - 25.12 34.93 - 41.26 50.64 - 60.68 68.07 - 89.07 93.42 - 124.92 125.94 - 143.32
Females
Total,
age 6-79
2830 0.67 54.89 41.93 14.15 24.50 44.83 75.76 108.03 129.34
49.98 - 59.80 37.73 - 46.61 11.83 - 16.47 20.59 - 28.40 39.22 - 50.43 69.46 - 82.06 97.02 - 119.04 117.91 - 140.77
6-11 510 0.59 72.17 57.85 21.14 36.95 67.26 101.80 128.17 150.44
65.34 - 78.99 52.33 - 63.95 17.13 - 25.16 29.78 - 44.12 61.21 - 73.31 88.67 - 114.93 114.51 - 141.84 132.57 - 168.30
12-19 478 0.00 74.98 58.77 19.95 37.06 68.35 96.59 136.49 159.25
65.52 - 84.44 48.72 - 70.90 9.62 - 30.29 23.00 - 51.13 57.65 - 79.05 85.96 - 107.22 121.55 - 151.42 139.82 - 178.69
20-39 655 0.92 54.76 42.40 16.40 27.39 42.13 72.59 109.00 132.25
47.23 - 62.29 36.55 - 49.20 13.18 - 19.63 21.68 - 33.09 33.36 - 50.91 60.93 - 84.25 86.77 - 131.23 112.45 - 152.06
40-59 645 1.24 48.22 36.66 11.83 21.00 40.04 68.24 94.13 116.21
44.50 - 51.94 33.16 - 40.52 9.41 - 14.26 16.26 - 25.75 34.45 - 45.64 62.54 - 73.93 87.97 - 100.30 107.42 - 125.01
60-79 542 0.37 48.84 38.14 13.48 22.25 40.59 66.35 90.11 112.15
44.10 - 53.57 33.37 - 43.60 10.83 - 16.14 17.88 - 26.63 32.32 - 48.86 59.99 - 72.71 81.62 - 98.59 102.34 - 121.97
Table 8.1.10c
Selenium (creatinine adjusted) - Arithmetic and geometric means, and selected percentiles of urine concentrations (μg/g creatinine) for the Canadian population aged 6-79 years, Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1, 2007-2009.
  n %<LODa A.M.
95%CI
G.M.
95%CI
10th
95%CI
25th
95%CI
50th
95%CI
75th
95%CI
90th
95%CI
95th
95%CI
  • a If >40% of samples were below the LOD, the percentile distribution is reported but means were not calculated.
Total,
age 6-79
5479 0.46 65.22 59.09 34.55 44.10 57.83 77.17 102.86 126.49
62.02 - 68.41 56.45 - 61.86 32.48 - 36.62 41.95 - 46.25 54.44 - 61.22 72.66 - 81.67 97.24 - 108.49 115.33 - 137.65
6-11 1031 0.48 100.76 92.75 55.23 73.50 93.96 117.21 145.48 172.35
95.42 - 106.09 88.83 - 96.85 51.14 - 59.33 69.95 - 77.05 89.61 - 98.31 110.27 - 124.16 136.07 - 154.89 154.64 - 190.07
12-19 982 0.00 59.69 54.54 32.97 40.65 53.65 69.49 89.50 110.10
54.63 - 64.76 51.05 - 58.26 30.85 - 35.09 38.39 - 42.91 49.78 - 57.53 64.17 - 74.81 77.65 - 101.36 92.41 - 127.78
20-39 1165 0.77 59.40 54.26 32.49 41.07 52.46 70.03 95.69 105.82
55.86 - 62.94 51.23 - 57.47 29.80 - 35.18 38.34 - 43.80 49.10 - 55.81 64.61 - 75.46 85.68 - 105.70 89.37 - 122.28
40-59 1218 0.74 63.47 57.86 33.43 44.06 57.11 74.72 96.18 115.77
59.76 - 67.18 54.62 - 61.30 30.57 - 36.28 41.28 - 46.83 53.31 - 60.90 70.14 - 79.30 89.66 - 102.69 104.13 - 127.41
60-79 1083 0.18 67.72 62.58 39.22 47.96 62.20 79.31 103.88 119.86
64.13 - 71.31 59.36 - 65.98 36.16 - 42.27 44.44 - 51.48 58.85 - 65.55 75.68 - 82.94 94.94 - 112.81 108.00 - 131.72
Males 
Total,
age 6-79
5479 0.46 65.22 59.09 34.55 44.10 57.83 77.17 102.86 126.49
62.02 - 68.41 56.45 - 61.86 32.48 - 36.62 41.95 - 46.25 54.44 - 61.22 72.66 - 81.67 97.24 - 108.49 115.33 - 137.65
6-11 1031 0.48 100.76 92.75 55.23 73.50 93.96 117.21 145.48 172.35
95.42 - 106.09 88.83 - 96.85 51.14 - 59.33 69.95 - 77.05 89.61 - 98.31 110.27 - 124.16 136.07 - 154.89 154.64 - 190.07
12-19 982 0.00 59.69 54.54 32.97 40.65