A method for estimating soil ingestion by children.

P. Clausing, B. Brunekreef, J.H. van Wijnen

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    In recent years, many cases of soil pollution have been unearthed in the Netherlands. The ingestion of soil particles due to mouthing behaviour of young children is an important potential pathway of exposure and may constitute a health risk. For an assessment of these health risks, a reliable estimation of the daily inadvertent ingestion of soil particles is necessary. A method to estimate soil ingestion is the use of titanium (Ti), aluminium (Al) and acid insoluble residue (AIR) content of the soil as a tracer. By measuring these tracers in faeces of children and in soil, an estimate can be made of the amount of soil ingested. This method can be used if the following conditions are met: tracer intake by other routes (food) is low and not too variable; tracer absorption from soil in the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract is negligible; tracer concentrations in soil are high and not too variable. A small pilot study was conducted among 18 children visiting a nursery school and 6 hospitalized children without any possibility of soil contact. The results of the pilot study indicate that each tracer is present in faeces in highly variable amounts, but that a combination of these three tracers produces a useful picture of potential soil ingestion. Quantitatively, a difference between the two populations of 55 mg/d, expressed as soil ingestion, was found. Despite the small numbers involved, this difference was statistically significant as the population standard deviations were small. In a number of different soil types, tracer concentrations were found to be almost equal. Further studies are planned to test the validity of the assumptions, and to investigate larger child populations living in different circumstances.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)73-82
    JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1987

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