Heartland Environmental Metal Dental Study

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Project Period: 
Project Investigator(s): 
R Field, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa
L. Fuortes, Department of Occupational & Environmental Health, The University of Iowa
B Smith, Department of Biostatistics, The University of Iowa
L Snetselaar, Department of Epidemiology, The University of Iowa
D Simmons, The University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory

Few methods accurately assess past exposures, particularly to a variety of toxicants at the same time. The availability of the inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometer has opened the door to such possibilities. However, most human tissues (blood, urine, hair) generally only reflect rather recent exposure. This study proposes to monitor a variety of metals in a tissue (teeth) that can incorporate metals over an extended period of time. Third molars were chosen for this pilot study for several reasons: 1) they are readily available from a cross-section of young adults in Iowa, 2) they have a relatively large mass as compared to other teeth, which provides greater source material for analysis, and 3) they are the last teeth to be formed, thus potentially reflecting the subjects' environmental exposure to a larger degree than teeth that were formed in utero. This biomonitoring project provides a direct connection between potential environmental toxicants and the human receptor.