Human primary teeth have been used as indicators of exposure to several heavy metals both in Norway and elsewhere. Local dentists in all 19 counties of Norway collected 2747 primary teeth during 1990–1994. Samples of tooth powder from whole, ground teeth were analyzed for zinc concentration by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The overall geometrical mean was 144.5 μg of Zn/g of tooth substance (S.D.=1.6). The result represents a small increase (5.2%) compared with a similar investigation in the 1970s. However, the mean zinc concentrations in the geographically matching parts of the two materials did not differ significantly. The variation in tooth zinc concentrations between the different counties declined from the 1970s to the 1990s. We found no correlation between the tooth zinc concentration and available environmental data on zinc in drinking-water, discharge of zinc from industrial point sources or population density in the same geographical areas. The zinc concentrations varied significantly with caries status, tooth type and root length. Few samples had a zinc concentration below 90 μg/g, indicating that most children consume sufficient zinc. Some very high values could not immediately be explained, but may be caused by contamination from zinc-containing dental restorations.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Feb 9, 1999
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