Heavy Metal Content in Scalp Hair of People Living in Fluorspar Mining Belt in Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya

J. N. Olero Kemboi, G. M. Simiyu, E. C. Kipkorir, J. Wakhisi


Human hair is a stable matrix that presents many advantages as a bioindicator of exposure to contaminants. Levels of Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium and Lead in scalp hair of people in Upper, Middle and Lower Kimwarer zones in Fluorspar mining belt were determined using the Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS) for Cadmium, Chromium and Lead but for Arsenic, Vapour Generating Atomic, Absorption Spectrophotometer was used. The levels of the heavy metals were discussed basing on their concentrations in food crops and water consumed by the inhabitants within the mining belt. Results showed the highest level of the metals was Pb, with an average concentration of 2.83±0.50mg/kg, followed by Cr (2.81±0.62 mg/kg), As (2.73±0.50 mg/kg), and Cd (1.53±0.28 mg/kg), following a decreasing order of Pb > Cr > As > Cd. Arsenic and Lead concentration in Upper and Lower Kimwarer and in Middle and Lower Kimwarer results showed a significant difference in (p<0.05, α=0.05). Cadmium and Chromium levels in all the sites had no significant difference p=0.133 and p=0.290 respectively. There was, however a significant correlation (p<0.01) between Pb concentration in milk and the Pb levels in scalp hair. This study provides information on levels of heavy metals in hair which implies their exposure occurred through ingestion of contaminated maize, beans, millet, water and milk in the study area. Given heavy metal levels in the scalp hair the people living within the mining belt could be at risk of adverse health risks from heavy metal exposure. Therefore, the results of this study can be used to analyze the internal heavy metal burden in the resident population of Kimwarer sub-catchment and can also serve as reference for further studies.

Full Text:



Agusa, T., Kunito, T., Iwata, H., Monirith, I., Tana, T. S. and Subramanian, A. (2005). Mercury contamination in human hair and fish from Cambodia: levels, specific accumulation and risk assessment. Environmental Pollution, 134 (1), 79-86.

Alamdar, A., Eqani, S. A., Ali, S. W., Sohail, M., Bhowmik, A. K. and Cincinelli, A. (2016). Human Arsenic exposure via dust across the different ecological zones of Pakistan. Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 126, 219-227.

Albering, V. L. (1999). Human health risk assessment: A case study involving heavy metal soil contamination after the flooding of the river Meuse during the winter of 1993– 1994. Environmental Health Perspective 107:37-43, 107:37-43.

Baastrup, R., Sørensen, M., Balstrøm, T., Frederiksen, K., Larsen, C. L. andTjønneland, A. (2008). Arsenic in drinking-water and risk for cancer in Denmark. Environmental Health Perspective, 116: 231.

Bernard, A. (2008). Cadmium and its adverse effects on human health. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 128 (4), 557.

Cutler, A. (2004). Hair test interpretation: finding hidden toxicities.

Dorne, J.-L. C., Kass, G. E., Bordajandi, L. R., Amzal, B., Bertelsen, U. and Castoldi, A. F. (2011). Human risk assessment of heavy metals: principles and applications. Journal of Metal Ions Life Science., 8, 27-60.

Granero, S. and Domingo, J. L. (2002). Levels of metals in soils of Alcalá de Henares, Spain: human health risks. Environmental International Journal, 28 (3), 59-164.

Grusak, M. A. and DellaPenna, D. (1999). Improving the nutrient composition of plants to enhance human nutrition and health. Annual review of plant biology,, 50 (1), 133-161.

Haiyan, W. and Stuanes, A. O. (2003). Heavy metal pollution in air-water-soil-plant system of Zhuzhou City, Hunan Province, China. . China. Water Air Soil Pollution., 147 (1-4), 79-107.

Hough, R. L., Breward, N., Young, S. D., Crout, N. M., Tye, A. M. and Moir, A. M. (2004). Assessing potential risk of heavy metal exposure from consumption of home-produced vegetables by urban populations. Environmental Health Perspective, 112 (2), 215.

Hussain, A. L. (2012). Concentration of some heavy metals in organically grown primitive, old and modern wheat genotypes: Implications for human health. . Journal of Environmental Science and Health, , Part B, 47 (7), 7.

Jan, A. T., Azam, M., Siddiqui, K., Ali, A., Choi, I. and Haq, Q. M. (2015). Heavy metals and human health: mechanistic insight into toxicity and counter defense system of antioxidants. International journal of molecular sciences,, 16 (12), 29592-29630.

MacIntosh, D. L., Spengler, J. D., Ozkaynak, H., Tsai, L., and Ryan, P. B. (1996). Dietary exposures to selected metals and pesticides. Environmental Health Perspective, 104 (2), 202.

Man YB, S. X. (2010). Health risk assessment of abandoned agricultural soils based on heavy metal contents in Hong Kong, the world’s most populated city. . Environmental international journal, 36: 570–576.

Mari M, N. M. (2009). Exposure to heavy metals and PCDD/Fs by the population living in the vicinity of a hazardous waste landfill in Catalonia, Spain: Health risk assessment. Environmental Iternational Journal, 35: 1034– 1039.

Manisha J, Tenzin T, Narish A, Blessy B. M. and Krishnamurthy, N. B. (2014). Toxicity Mechanism and Health effects of some Heavy Metals. Interdisciplinary Toxicology , Vol 7 (2), 62-70.

Matsubara, J. and Machida, K. (1985). Significance of elemental analysis of hair as a means of detecting environmental pollution. Environmental Research, 38 (2), 225-238.

Nadal, M., Bocio, A., Schuhmacher, M. and Domingo, J. (2005). Trends in the levels of metals in soils and vegetation samples collected near a hazardous waste incinerator. Archiecture of Environmental Contamination Toxicology, 49 (3), 290–298.

Ni, S., Li, R., and Wang, A. (2011). Heavy metal content in scalp hair of the inhabitants near Dexing Copper Mine, Jiangxi Province, China. Science China Earth Sciences, 54 (5), 780-788.

Nikolaidis, C., Orfanidis, M., Hauri, D., Mylanos, S. and Constantinidis, T. (2012). Public health risk assessment associated with heavy metals and arsenic exposure near an abandoned mine(Kirki,/Greece). International Journal of Environmental Health Research .

Orloff, K., Mistry, K. and Metcalf, S. (2009). Biomonitoring for environmental exposures to arsenic. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 12 (7), 509-524.

Olero, N. K. J., Simiyu, M. G., Kipkorir, C. E. and Wakhisi, J. (2018). Cancer Risks Associated with Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium and Lead in Flourspar Mining Belt Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya. Eldoret: University of Eldoret.

Qu, C. S., Ma, Z. W., Yang, J., Liu, Y., Bi, J. and Huang, L. (2012). Human exposure pathways of heavy metals in a lead-zinc mining area, Jiangsu Province, China. PloS one, 7 (11), e46793.

Risher, J. F. (2002). Organic mercury compounds: human exposure and its relevance to public health. . Toxicology and industrial health,, 18 (3), 109-160.

Rodrigues, J. L., Batista, B. L., Nunes, J. A., Passos, C. J. and Barbosa Jr, F. (2008). Evaluation of the use of human hair for biomonitoring the deficiency of essential andexposure to toxic elements. Science of the Total Environment, 405-1-3, 370-376.

Rodríguez-Gil., H. R. (2018). Analysis of lipid peroxidation in animal and plant tissues as field-based biomarker in Mediterranean irrigated agroecosystems (Extremadura, Spain). Journal of Environmental science and health, part B,, Parrt B, 1-13.

Ryan, J. A., Pahren, H. R. and Lucas, J. B. (1982). Controlling cadmium in the human food chain: a review and rationale based on health effects. Environmental Research, 28 (2), 251-302.

Saner, G., Yüzbasiyan, V. and Cigdem, S. (1984). Hair chromium concentration and chromium excretion in tannery worker. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 41 (2), 263-266.

Satarug, S., Garrett, S. H., Sens, M. A. and Sens, D. A. (2009). Cadmium, environmental exposure, and health outcomes. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118 (2), 182-190.

Schlekat, C. E., Decho, A. W. and Chandler, G. T. (2000). Bioavailability of particle‐associated silver, cadmium, and zinc to the estuarine amphipod Leptocheirus plumulosus through dietary ingestion. Limnology and Oceanography, 45 (1), 11-21.

Tchounwou, P., Clement G. Y., Patlolla, A. K. and Dwayne J. S. P. C. (2012). Arsenic toxicity, mutagenesis, and carcinogenesis- a health risk assesment and management approach. Mollecula and Cellular Biochemistry, 255(1-2), , 47-55.

Yoshida, T., Yamauchi, H. and Sun, G. F. (2004). Chronic health effects in people exposed to arsenic via the drinking water: dose–response relationships in review. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 198 (3), 243-252.

Yüksel, B., Şen, N., Türksoy, V. A., Tutkun, E., and Söylemezoğlu, T. (2018). Effect of exposure time and smoking habit on arsenic levels in biological samples of metal workers in comparison with controls. Marmara Pharmaceutical Journal, 22 (2).


  • There are currently no refbacks.

© 2015 School of Environmental Studies all rights reserved. Permission should be sought from the publishers before any of this work or part of it is reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, microfilming and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system.