Oxidative damage associated with exposure to heavy metals present in topsoils in central Chile

Eva Madrid, José A. Pino, Sergio Muñoz, Felipe Cardemil, Felipe Martinez, Maite Berasaluce, Sebastián San Martín, Juan Reyes, Isabel González-Miranda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure to heavy metals may cause the overproduction of reactive oxygen species, generating oxidative stress and consequently, various harms to human health. The soil surrounding the Ventanas Industrial Complex, in Puchuncaví and Quintero municipal districts on the central Chilean coast, contains heavy metal concentrations (As, Cu, Pb, Zn, among others) that far exceed the maximum permissible levels established by Italian soil standards (used as a reference). This study aimed to investigate the potential association between heavy metal exposure in humans and the levels of oxidative stress biomarkers in inhabitants of these locations. We took blood samples from 140 adults living in sites with high concentrations of heavy metals in the soil and compared them with blood samples from 140 adults living in areas with normal heavy metal concentrations. We assessed lipid peroxidation, damage to genetic material, and Total Antioxidant Capacity in these blood samples. Our results indicate an association between oxidative damage and heavy metal exposure, where the inhabitants living in exposed areas have a higher level of DNA damage compared with those living in control areas. Given that DNA damage is one of the main factors in carcinogenesis, these results are of interest, both for public health and for public policies aimed at limiting human exposure to environmental pollution.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • 8-OHdG
  • DNA damage
  • Heavy metals
  • Human exposure
  • Oxidative stress
  • Soil pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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