Chemometrics Approach to Identify Environmental Sources Contributing to Metals Exposure in Non-occupationally Exposed Pregnant Women of Western Australia

  • Ramalingam Malarvili
  • McCafferty Peter
  • Kittappa Shanmuga Shanmuga
Keywords: Chemometrics; environmental sources; metals; non-occupationally exposed pregnant women


This study aimed to determine if chemometric techniques could be employed to identify the environmental sources contributing to metals exposure in non-occupationally exposed pregnant women living in Western Australia at background levels. Total metals (Al, Cd, Co, Cu, Pb, Mn, Hg, Ni, Se, U, V, Zn) concentrations were determined in 119 bloods and 109 urines, and environmental samples (104 house dust, 103 soil and 118 drinking water) collected from homes of the study population. Chemometric techniques, principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least squares (PLS) were used to identify the number of potential sources, and assess the percentage contribution of source signatures to the metal loadings in maternal blood and urine. Chemometric techniques were applied to the data generated from elemental analysis of blood, urine, drinking water, soil and dust samples to develop the signature. The use of PCA and PLS in establishing source signature using a suite of metals indicated that a mixed environmental source of metals contributed to the concentrations in maternal blood. Drinking water, soil and dust were identified as potential sources of metals in blood but not in urine. PLS analysis using the environmental data as the signature indicated 70-95% of the variance in the blood could be explained by the environmental signature for most blood samples.