Source apportionment of lead in the blood of women of reproductive age living near tailings in Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico: An isotopic study

Analine Berenice Vázquez Bahéna, Oscar Talavera Mendoza, Ma Elena Moreno Godínez, Sergio Adrián Salgado Souto, Joaquín Ruiz, Gerardo Huerta Beristain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The concentration and isotopic composition of lead in the blood of forty seven women of reproductive age (15–45 y) exposed to multiple sources in two rural communities of the mining region of Taxco, Guerrero in southern Mexico were determined in order to identify specific contributing sources and their apportionment and to trace probable ingestion pathways. Our data indicate that > 36% of the studied women have blood lead concentrations above 10 μg dL− 1 and up to 87% above 5 μg dL− 1. Tailings contain between 2128 and 5988 mg kg− 1 of lead and represent the most conspicuous source in the area. Lead contents in indoor dust are largely variable (21.7–987 mg kg− 1) but only 15% of samples are above the Mexican Regulatory Guideline for urban soils (400 mg kg− 1). By contrast, 85% of glazed containers (range: 0.026–68.6 mg kg− 1) used for cooking and food storage are above the maximum 2 mg L− 1 of soluble lead established in the Mexican Guideline. The isotopic composition indicates that lead in the blood of 95% of the studied women can be modeled in terms of a mixing system between local ores (and derivatives), glazed pottery and Morelos bedrock, end-members, with the two former being largely the most important contributors. Only one sample shows influence of indoor paints. Indoor dust is dominated by ores and derivatives but some samples show evidence of contribution from a less radiogenic source very likely represented by interior paints. This study supports the application of lead isotopic ratios to identify potential sources and their apportionment in humans exposed to multiple sources of lead from both, natural and anthropogenic origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-114
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Binary/ternary mixing models
  • Lead contamination
  • Lead isotopic signature
  • Natural/anthropogenic sources
  • Southern Mexico

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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