Evaluation of toxic elements in nails of tannery workers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Microchemical Journal




Exposure, Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry, Multivariate analysis, Nail, Tannery worker, Toxic element


© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Working in tannery is associated with the manifestation of various diseases caused by unregulated exposure to non-biodegradable toxic elements. The aim of this study was to determine the levels of arsenic, chromium, lead and nickel in the nail of tanner workers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The level of toxic elements in the nail samples was measured using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES). Pearson correlation, principal component analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis (CA) were used to identify the potential contributing sources of elements. The mean nail levels of As, Cr, Pb and Ni were 0.74 ± 1.21, 306.83 ± 21.42, 1.23 ± 0.69 and 3.99 ± 0.26 µg/g respectively. In all tanneries, the mean elemental concentration patterns found in the nail samples was in the increasing order of AS < Pb < Ni < Cr. The Kruskal-Wallis test result revealed that there was a significant difference in Ni (χ2(2) = 9.266, p = 0.01) and As (χ2(2) = 12.453, p = 0.002) concentrations among the three different tanneries such as ELICO-Awash (T1), Batu (T2) and Addis Ababa (T3). However, the results didn't show a significant difference for Cr (p = 0.469) and Pb (p = 0.116). Our results showed elevated levels of Cr in 94.6% of nail samples compared to previous studies. In addition, workers in the tanning industries were also exposed to other toxic elements such as As, Pb and Ni. This study stresses the need for increased investigation of adverse health impacts of metal exposure in tannery industries.

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