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Elevated Serum Pb, Ni, Cd, and Cr Levels and DNA Damage in Exfoliated Buccal Cells of Teenage Scavengers at a Major Electronic Waste Dumpsite in Lagos, Nigeria.

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This study investigated the levels of Pb, Ni, Cd, and Cr in the blood, and DNA damage in exfoliated buccal cavity of scavenging teenagers at Alaba International electronic market, Nigeria. One hundred and ninety-nine blood samples were collected from scavenging teenagers in Alaba International market (n = 95) and the control group (n = 104). Blood Pb, Ni, Cd, and Cr concentrations were analyzed using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. Genotoxicity assessment was through exfoliated buccal cell micronucleus assay, while questionnaire was used to collect data on factors that can contribute to the blood heavy metal levels. The blood Pb of scavenging teenagers from Alaba International market varied from 2.84 to 189.44 μg/L compared to the control group with a range of 0.01 to 4.21 μg/L. The blood Cd (range = 0.38-12.35 μg/L), Cr (range = 0.20-19.03 μg/L), and Ni (range = 0.24-21.01 μg/L) were higher significantly in the Alaba group compared to the control group (Cd: range = 0.00-0.96 μg/L; Cr: range = 0.01-0.72 μg/L; and Ni: range = 0.00-0.28 μg/L). Frequencies of micronucleus, karyolysis, and pycnosis in the exfoliated buccal cells in Alaba group also increased significantly compared with the control group. Spearman correlation analyses indicated a positive correlation between the blood Pb, Ni, Cd, and Cr and induced micronucleus in the buccal exfoliated cells. Furthermore, data showed a positive correlation between Pb, Ni, Cd, and Cr and the duration of scavenging of the teenagers. However, a negative correlation was observed between educational status and Pb, Ni, Cd, and Cr. E-waste indiscriminate disposal and primitive recycling processes may be responsible for the high blood heavy metal levels, and consequently an increased DNA damage in exfoliated buccal cells in scavenging teenagers at Alaba International market. Graphical Abstract.

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