Ethnic aspects of toxic elements in the Russian Northeast

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One of the urgent problems of ecology is the environmental pollution of the northern regions with toxic elements and their negative impact on human health. The analysis of the content of lead, cadmium and mercury in the body of aboriginal and visiting residents of the Northeast of Russia was carried out. The balance of essential (calcium, zinc) and toxic (lead, cadmium) elements was considered. Statistically significant differences in the content of cadmium and lead in aboriginal residents and Caucasians were noted. Among the Evens, the median of cadmium exceeded that of the Koryaks, Chukchis, and Caucasoids; the value of the median of lead among the Chukchis was lower compared to that in other ethnic groups. There were no statistically significant differences in the content of mercury between Koryaks, Evens and Chukchis, as well as between aboriginal residents and Caucasians. There are no critical levels of mercury in the body of aborigines. The median mercury in the hair of the Koryaks, Chukchis and Evens did not exceed the biologically acceptable level - 0.5 µg/g. Among aboriginal residents, the highest percentage of samples with mercury content in the range from 0.5 to 1.0 µg/g (background level) was noted in 33.8% of Evens and 30% of Koryaks; among the Chukchi, this figure was 8.6%. Elevated levels of mercury in some aboriginal people may be due to the high proportion of fish and seafood containing methylmercury in the diet. The proportions of toxic metals (Pb, Cd) in relation to their essential antagonist elements (Ca, Zn) indicate that toxic elements do not disrupt the biochemical processes controlled by the corresponding essential elements. Thus, the study area of the Northeast of Russia, in terms of toxic load on the population, can be attributed to territories with a relatively favorable environmental situation.

About the authors

Natalia V. Pokhilyuk

Northeastern State University

general hygiene doctor, Medical and Sanitary Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in Magadan Region, lecturer 13 Portovaya St, Magadan, 685000, Russian Federation

Anatoly L. Gorbachev

Northeastern State University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2432-3408

Ph.D. (Biology), Professor of the Department of Valeology

13 Portovaya St, Magadan, 685000, Russian Federation


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