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Trace Element Levels in Nails of Residents of Addis Ababa Are Shaped by Social Factors and Geography

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Claire Walsh, Professor David WernerORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Humana Press Inc., 2023.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.The Akaki catchment in Ethiopia is home to Addis Ababa and about five million people. Its watercourses receive a variety of wastes released by the residents and industries. River water is being used for irrigation, livestock watering, and other domestic purposes. This study tested the hypothesis that the river pollution would be reflected in higher levels of trace elements in the nails of residents living in Akaki-Kality Sub-City in the downstream, as compared to those living in Gullele Sub-City in the upstream of the Akaki catchment. Samples were taken and subsequently analysed for metals using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). The mean concentrations of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Ni, Cr, Pb, and As in nails from Akaki-Kality were 488 ± 49, 106 ± 10, 5.2 ± 0.3, 13 ± 1.5, 11 ± 8, 2.2 ± 0.3, 0.09 ± 0.01, and 0.16 ± 0.01 μg/g, respectively. Likewise, the concentrations of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Ni, Cr, Pb, and As in nails from Gullele were 1035 ± 135, 251 ± 10, 6.6 ± 0.4, 31 ± 3.7, 7.4 ± 1.7, 2.0 ± 0.3, 0.63 ± 0.01, and 0.25 ± 0.01 μg/g, respectively. Co and Cd were not detected. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, higher metal levels were found in nails of residents living in the upstream rather than the downstream area of the catchment. In particular, the concentrations of Fe (p = 0.000), Zn (p = 0.01), and Mn (p = 0.000) were significantly elevated in nails from Gullele and also high in comparison with internationally reported values. Besides, geography and social factors, especially education level, correlated to trace metals in nails. Most of the elements were significantly lower in the nails of individuals with a university degree compared to those who were illiterate or only completed primary school.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dessie BK, Mehari B, Gari SR, Mihret A, Desta AF, Melaku S, Alamirew T, Walsh CL, Werner D, Zeleke G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biological Trace Element Research

Year: 2023

Volume: 201

Pages: 577-591

Print publication date: 01/02/2023

Online publication date: 02/03/2022

Acceptance date: 21/02/2022

Date deposited: 07/04/2022

ISSN (print): 0163-4984

ISSN (electronic): 1559-0720

Publisher: Humana Press Inc.


DOI: 10.1007/s12011-022-03181-y

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/h0ds-ra47

PubMed id: 35233714


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