Determination of fingernail chromium, cadmium, and lead in tannery workers


  • Yen-Hsiung Liao Kaohsiung Medical University





Tannery, Fingernails, Chromium, Cadmium, Lead.


Purpose: To determine whether chromium, cadmium, and lead levels in human Fingernails reflected the exposure to workplace contamination in tanneries.

Approach: 49 exposed tanning workers and 33 controls were monitored for fingernail levels of chromium, cadmium, and lead by graphite furnace and hydride atomic absorption spectroscopy.

Results: The mean levels of fingernail chromium, cadmium, and lead in the exposed workers were significantly higher than those in the controls. In regression models for the tannery workers, the significant risk factor that affected the fingernail chromium, Cadmium, and lead level were occupational exposure, respectively. Current smoker it showed a significant change in trend of increased fingernail cadmium levels.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that chromium, cadmium, and lead absorbed from. Leather tanning compounds result in raised levels of chromium, cadmium, and lead in fingernails and that improvement of the industrial health should be more practiced in the tanneries in Taiwan.


[1] Gammelgaard B, Peters K, & Menno T (1991). Reference values for the nickel concentration in human fingernails. J Trace Elem Electrol Health Dis 5, 121 - 123.

[2] Haroun M, Idris A, & Syed Omar SR (2007). A study of heavy metals and their fate in the composting of tannery sludge. Waste Management 27, 1541-1550.

[3] Hayashi M, Yamamoto K, Yoshimura M, Hayashi H, & Shitara A (1993). Cadmium, lead, and zinc concentrations in human fingernails. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 50, 547 - 553.

[4] Hopps HC (1976). The biologic bases for using hair and nail for analyses of trace elements. Sci Total Environ 7, 71 - 89.

[5] Kasperek K, Iyengar GV, & Feinendegen LE (1982). Multielement analysis of fingernail, scalp hair and water samples from Egypt (a preliminary study). The Science of the Total Environment 22, 149 - 168.

[6] Mehra R, & Juneja M (2005). Fingernails as biological indices of metal exposure. J Biosci 30, 253 - 257.

[7] Nowak B, & Chmielnicka J (2000). Relationship of lead and cadmium to essential elements in hair, teeth, and nails of environmentally exposed people. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 46, 265 - 274.

[8] Ory FG, Rahman FU, Katagade V, Shukla A, & Burdorf A (1997). Assessment of exposure to chemical agents and ergonomic stressors in tanneries in Kanpur, India. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal 58, 732 - 739.

[9] Randall JA, & Gibson RS (1987). Serum and urine chromium as indices of chromium status in tannery workers. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 185, 16 - 23.

[10] Randall JA, & Gibson, RS (1989). Hair chromium as an index of chromium exposure of tannery workers. British Journal of Industrial Medicine 46, 171- 175.

[11] Saner G, Yuzbasiyan V, & Gigdem S (1984). Hair chromium concentration and chromium excretion in tannery workers. British Journal of Industrial Medicine 41, 263 - 266.

[12] Sukumar A & Subramanian R (1992). Elements in hair nails of urban residents of New Delhi. CHD, hypertensive, and diabetic cases. Biol Trace Elem Res 34, 89 - 97.

[13] Sukumar A & Subramanian R (1992). Elements in hair nails of residents from a village adjacent to New Delhi. Influence of place of occupational and smoking habits. Biol Trace Elem Res 34, 99-105.

[14] Sukumar A & Subramanian R (2007). Relative element levels in the paired samples of scalp hair and fingernails of patients from New Delhi. Science of the Total Environment 372, 474 - 479.

[15] Tariq SR, Shah MH, Shaheen N, Khalique A, Manzoor S, & Jaffar M (2006). Multivariate analysis of trace metal levels in tannery effluents in relation to soil and water: A case study from Peshawar, Pakistan. Journal of Environmental Management 79, 20 - 29.

[16] Wilhelm M, Hafner D, Lombeck I, & Ohnesorge FK (1991). Monitoring of cadmium, copper, lead and zinc status in young children using toenails: comparison with scalp hair. The Science of the Total Environment 103, 199 - 207.

View Full Article: