Prevalence and Factors Associated with High Levels of Aluminum, Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Hair Samples of Well-Nourished Thai Children in Bangkok and Perimeters

  • Torsak Tippairote
  • Piya Temviriyanukul
  • Wenika Benjapong
  • Dunyaporn TrachoothamEmail author


Toxic element exposure increases risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. However, hair element profiles of well-nourished urban resident children were largely unknown. We identified prevalence and the contributing factors of high hair aluminum (Al), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and mercury (Hg) levels in 111 Thai children (aged 3–7 years old). Most participants were well-nourished with high socioeconomic status. Since ROC curve of hair element data showed inadequate sensitivity for cutoff set-up, US reference hair levels were used to categorize high and low level groups. Nevertheless, compared to the current reference at 5 μg/dL, blood lead cutoff at 2.15 μg/dL provided more consistent results with that of hair lead levels. High As and Pb levels were the first and second most prevalent element, while Al was the element found in highest amount in hair. High hair Al (12% prevalence) levels were associated with being male regardless of age or nutritional status. High hair As levels were associated with living in Bangkok (OR = 6.57) regardless of school type. High hair Pb levels were associated with being under 5 years old and living in Bangkok (OR = 3.06). However, no associations were found between blood Pb, hair Cd, Hg, and tested factors. These findings suggested that under 5-year-old boys living in capital city like Bangkok may be at risk of exposure to multiple toxic elements. Future studies in these children are warranted to identify their exposure sources and proper risk management strategies.


Hair Toxic element Aluminum Thai children Well-nourished Bangkok Blood lead 



This study was funded by National Research Council of Thailand (FY2016; Thesis Grant for Master Degree Student).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

TT has received a research grant from National Research Council of Thailand. TT is an executive member of BBH Hospital. Other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval for Research Involving Human Participants

The study had been performed in accordance with Declaration of Helsinki. The protocol was approved by the institutional review board of Mahidol University with certificate of approval (COA) No.MU-CIRB 2015/125.2010 and registered in Thai Clinical Trials Registry (TCTR) with study ID of 20151113001.

Written informed consent was obtained from parents or legal representatives of all participants in this study prior to data collection.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BBH HospitalBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Dunyaporn Trachootham, Institute of NutritionMahidol UniversityNakhon PathomThailand

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