Exposure to atmospheric metals using moss bioindicators and neonatal health outcomes in Portland, Oregon
2021; 284: 117343
Studying the impacts of prenatal atmospheric heavy-metal exposure is challenging, because biological exposure monitoring does not distinguish between specific sources, and high-resolution air monitoring data is lacking for heavy metals. Bioindicators - animal or plant species that can capture environmental quality - are a low-cost tool for evaluating exposure to atmospheric heavy-metal pollution that have received little attention in the public-health literature. We obtained birth records for Portland, Oregon live births (2008-2014) and modeled metal concentrations derived from 346 samples of moss bioindicators collected in 2013. Exposure estimates were assigned using mother's residential address at birth for six metals with known toxic and estrogenic effects (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, nickel, lead). Associations were evaluated for continuous (cts) and quartile-based (Q) metal estimates and three birth outcomes (preterm birth (PTB; <37 weeks)), very PTB (vPTB; <32 weeks), small for gestational age (SGA; 10th percentile of weight by age and sex)) using logistic regression models with adjustment for demographic characteristics, and stratified by maternal race. Chromium and cobalt were associated with increased odds of vPTB (chromium - odds ratio (OR)cts = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.17; cobalt - ORQ4vsQ1 = 1.33, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.71). Cobalt, chromium and cadmium were significantly associated with odds of SGA, although the direction of association differed by metal (cobalt - ORcts = 1.04, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.07; chromium - ORQ3vsQ1 = 0.91, 95% CI: 0.83, 0.99; cadmium - ORcts = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.93, 1.00). In stratified analyses, odds of SGA were significantly different among non-white mothers compared to white mothers with exposure to chromium, cobalt, lead and nickel. This novel application of a moss-based exposure metric found that exposure to some atmospheric metals is associated with adverse birth outcomes. These findings are consistent with previous literature and suggest that moss bioindicators are a useful complement to traditional exposure-assessment methods.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117343
View details for Web of Science ID 000672534900011
View details for PubMedID 34030082