Scand J Work Environ Health 1999;25 suppl 3:40-64    pdf

Environmental health in the Baltic region -- toxic metals

by Skerfving S, Bencko V, Vahter M, Schütz A, Gerhardsson L

Recent reports on concentrations of lead, cadmium, methylmercury, arsenic and nickel in some biological media in populations in the Baltic region are reviewed. In particular, children in parts of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany have uptakes of lead sufficient to cause adverse effects on the central nervous system and kidneys. Cadmium exposure is also high in Poland. Slight cadmium-induced effects on the kidneys have been reported from Germany and Sweden. Methylmercury uptake is dependent upon the intake of fish, in particular from contaminated lakes and rivers in Sweden and Finland, as well as the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. There are some indications of immunotoxic effects associated with the intake of such fish. However, fish also contain other immunomodulating agents. Exposure to arsenic seems to be low everywhere in the Baltic region. There is high nickel exposure in northern Russia.