20 March 2017
Arsenic and chromium are widespread environmental contaminants that affect global health due to their toxicity and carcinogenicity. To date, few studies have investigated exposure to arsenic and chromium in a population residing in a high-risk environmental area. The aim of this study is to evaluate the exposure to arsenic and chromium in the general population with no occupational exposure to these metals, resident in the industrial area of Taranto, Southern Italy, through biological monitoring techniques. We measured the levels of chromium, inorganic arsenic, and methylated metabolites, in the urine samples of 279 subjects residing in Taranto and neighboring areas. Qualified health staff administered a standardized structured questionnaire investigating lifestyle habits and controlling for confounding factors. The biological monitoring data showed high urinary concentrations of both the heavy metals investigated, particularly Cr. On this basis, it will be necessary to carry out an organized environmental monitoring program, taking into consideration all exposure routes so as to correlate the environmental concentrations of these metals with the biomonitoring results.