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Atomic Absorption Spectrometry of Nickel, Copper, Zinc, and Lead in Sweat Collected from Healthy Subjects during Sauna Bathing

Atomic Absorption Spectrometry of Nickel, Copper, Zinc, and Lead in Sweat Collected from Healthy Subjects during Sauna Bathing

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David C. HohnadelF. William SundermanMaria W. NechayMichael D. McNeely

Abstract

Ni, Cu, Zn, and Pb were measured by atomic absorption spectrometry in sweat samples obtained by the arm-bag technique from 48 healthy adult subjects (33 ♂, 15 ♀ ) during sauna bathing (15 min at 93 °C, dry heat). The men sweated more profusely than the women (volume, in milliliters, of sweat collected: mean, SD, and range: 23 ± 12 (3-55) and 7 ± 3 (2-13), respectively. The concentrations, in µg/liter, (mean, SD, and range) of trace metals in sweat of men and women, respectively, were: nickel, 52 ± 36 (7-180) and 131 ± 65 (39-270); copper, 550 ± 350 (30-1440) and 1480 ± 610 (590-2280); zinc, 500 ± 480 (130-1460) and 1250 ± 770 (530-2620); and lead, 51 ± 42 (8-184) and 118 ± 72 (49-283). In sweat samples from 11 women on oral contraceptives, concentrations of Ni, Cu, Zn, and Pb did not differ significantly from the values in the 15 control women. Sweating is a demonstrably significant route for excretion of trace metals, and sweating may play a role in trace-metal homeostasis. Essential trace metals could conceivably be depleted during prolonged exposure to heat; conversely, sauna bathing might provide a therapeutic method to increase elimination of toxic trace metals.

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