Project 3: Modeling spatial patterns of drinking-water contamination

Mayuri Bhatia, Aaron J Specht, Vallabhuni Ramya, Dahy Sulaiman, Manasa Konda, Prentiss Balcom, Elsie M Sunderland, and Asif Qureshi. 2021. “Portable X-ray Fluorescence as a Rapid Determination Tool to Detect Parts per Million Levels of Ni, Zn, As, Se, and Pb in Human Toenails: A South India Case Study.” Environ Sci Technol, 55, 19, Pp. 13113-13121. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Chronic exposure to inorganic pollutants adversely affects human health. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is the most common method used for trace metal(loid) analysis of human biomarkers. However, it leads to sample destruction, generation of secondary waste, and significant recurring costs. Portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instruments can rapidly and nondestructively determine low concentrations of metal(loid)s. In this work, we evaluated the applicability of portable XRF as a rapid method for analyzing trace metal(loid)s in toenail samples from three populations (n = 97) near the city of Chennai, India. A Passing-Bablok regression analysis of results from both methods revealed that there was no proportional bias among the two methods for nickel (measurement range ∼25 to 420 mg/kg), zinc (10 to 890 mg/kg), and lead (0.29 to 4.47 mg/kg). There was a small absolute bias between the two methods. There was a strong proportional bias (slope = 0.253, 95% CI: 0.027, 0.614) between the two methods for arsenic (below detection to 3.8 mg/kg) and for selenium when the concentrations were lower than 2 mg/kg. Limits of agreement between the two methods using Bland-Altman analysis were derived for nickel, zinc, and lead. Overall, a suitably calibrated and evaluated portable XRF shows promise in making high-throughput assessments at population scales.