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Population health risk due to dietary intake of heavy metals in the industrial area of Huludao city, China

For most people, diet is the main route of exposure to trace metals, so the assessment risks of these elements to human via dietary intake is important. The non-carcinogenic health risk of Hg, Pb, Cd, Zn and Cu to the adults and children via dietary intake in the industrial area of Huludao city, northeast of China was estimated. The industrial area of Huludao has been contaminated seriously by heavy metals due to heavy metals smelting. The target hazard quotients (THQs) and hazard index (HI) were calculated to evaluate the non-carcinogenic health risk from individual heavy metal and combined heavy metals due to dietary intake.

Target hazard quotients for individual heavy metal from consuming individual foodstuff in the industrial area of Huludao were all less than one, indicating that health risk associated with the intake of a single heavy metal through consumption of only one kind of foodstuffs (e.g. vegetable) was the relative absent. However, consumption of the entire foodstuff would lead to potential health risks for children and adults, since hazard indexes (HIs) for heavy metals due dietary intake were higher than one. The relative contributions of Hg, Pb, Cd, Zn and Cu to the HIs were 1.7%, 11.7%, 24.0%, 23.4%, and 39.6% for adults, and 1.5%, 11.7%, 21.8%, 26.1%, and 38.8% for children. Cereal, sea product, and vegetable were the main sources of heavy metal intake from foodstuff for adults and children, but fruit, milk, bean, and egg were secondary contributors.