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Abstracts: ISEE 22nd Annual Conference, Seoul, Korea, 28 August–1 September 2010: Heavy Metal and Children's Health

The German Environmental Survey for Children (GerES IV): Children's Internal Exposure to Nickel

Conrad, André1; Schulz, Christine1; Hünken, Andreas1; Seiwert, Margarete1; Becker, Kerstin1; Wittsiepe, Jürgen2; Wilhelm, Michael2; Kolossa-Gehring, Marike1

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doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000392035.92569.30
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The German Environmental Survey for Children (GerES IV) is nation-wide population study conducted from 2003 to 06. Main objectives were to generate representative data on the environmental exposure and on linked health outcomes. GerES IV was performed jointly with the National Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), conducted by the Robert Koch Institute.


A total of 1790 children, aged 3–14 years from 150 communities in Germany participated in GerES IV. The investigation comprised of extensive interviews on food and drinking water consumption and other relevant exposure factors. Nickel in urine was quantified by electrothermal AAS. Multivariate regression was used to analyze the associations between various exposure factors and sociodemographic characteristics on the nickel concentration in urine.


Nickel concentrations in urine ranged from <0.5 μg/L (LOQ) to 15 μg/L. The median resulted in 1.3 μg/L, the 95th percentile in 4.5 μg/L. Nickel in urine decreased significantly with age (P < 0.01). No significant difference was found between boys and girls. Lower urinary concentrations were observed for children with a high socioeconomic status compared to the other participants (1.11 vs. 1.33 μg/L, P < 0.001). Chocolate consumption was associated with the internal exposure to nickel (P < 0.05).


GerES IV data describe German children's internal exposure to nickel on a representative basis. Relevant factors associated with nickel in urine were identified. Our findings may help to improve health outcomes in children as the oral exposure to nickel may aggravate nickel-induced contact eczemas.

We thank all children and parents participated in this study. The financial support of the Federal Ministries for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and of Education and Research is gratefully acknowledged. GerES IV field work was carried out by the Robert Koch Institute.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.