Detection and comparison of light metals in hair among workers of different industries using Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE) for forensic casework

Muhammad Rehman, Muhammad Waqas, Muhammad Saqib Shahzad, Saeeda kalsoom, Javed Iqbal Bajwa, Amina Arif, Muhammad Azmat Ullah Khan


Background: The study was planned to evaluate the deposition of some metals in the scalp hair of the people working in the particular environment. Scalp hair samples were collected from different industry workers including pharmaceutical, textile and paint industry and analyzed for the determination of aluminum (Al), calcium (Ca), potassium (K) and sulfur (S). Hair analysis provides a better assessment of light metals present in the surroundings, as well as monitoring of variation of metals from place to place.

Methods: The hair samples were collected from 21-55 years old employees working in industry for more than four years. Workers of the age less than 20 years and less than 4 years working experience were not including in this study. Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) system was used to detect the light metals from hair and probable matches were searched through National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) library.

Results: The metals Al, S, K and Ca concentration was found maximum in the pharmaceutical industry workers. i.e., 575.1 µg/g, 190.7 µg/g, 11.1 µg/g and 9.1 µg/g respectively. The minimum concentration so these metals was found in paint industry workers i.e. 103.7 µg/g, 8.87 µg/g, 2.3 µg/g, and 1.7µg/g respectively.

Conclusion: Light metal concentrations in hair samples showed a significant positive correlation. Our findings can play vital role for health departments and industrial environmental management system (EMS) authorities in policy making and implementation. Taken all together, the workers were facing minor health implications in these industries and need immediate protective measures to remediate the current situation. 

Keywords: Forensic, Scalp Hair Analysis, Particle Induced X-ray Emission

Full Text:



Afridi HI, Kazi TG, Talpur FN, Arain S, Arain SS, et al. Distribution of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and nickel levels in biological samples of Pakistani hypertensive patients and control subjects. Clinical Laboratory, (2014); 60(8): 1309-1318.

McPhillips MA, Strang J, Barnes TR. Hair analysis: new laboratory ability to test for substance use. The British Journal of Psychiatry, (1998); 173(4): 287-290.

Bibi M, Hashmi MZ, Malik RN. The level and distribution of heavy metals and changes in oxidative stress indices in humans from Lahore district, Pakistan. Human & Experimental Toxicology, (2016); 35(1): 78-90.

Houk RS. Mass spectrometry of inductively coupled plasmas. Analytical Chemistry, (1986); 58(1): 97A-105A.

Stadlbauer C, Prohaska T, Reiter C, Knaus A, Stingeder G. Time-resolved monitoring of heavy-metal intoxication in single hair by laser ablation ICP–DRCMS. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, (2005); 383(3): 500-508.

Airey D. Mercury in human hair due to environment and diet: a review. Environmental Health Perspectives, (1983); 52303.

Rivlin RS. Misuse of hair analysis for nutritional assessment. The American Journal of Medicine, (1983); 75(3): 489-493.

Xing R, Li Y, Zhang B, Li H, Liao X. Indicative and complementary effects of human biological indicators for heavy metal exposure assessment. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, (2017); 39(5): 1031-1043.

Afridi HI, Talpur FN, Kazi TG, Kazi N, Arain SS, et al. Estimation of calcium, magnesium, cadmium, and lead in biological samples from paralyzed quality control and production steel mill workers. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, (2015); 187(6): 350.

Vadrucci M, Bazzano G, Borgognoni F, Chiari M, Mazzinghi A, et al. A new small-footprint external-beam PIXE facility for cultural heritage applications using pulsed proton beams. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, (2017); 406: 314-317.

Zucchiatti A, Galán P, Prieto JE. A procedure to correct for target thickness effects in heavy-ion PIXE at MeV energies. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, (2017); 407: 1-4.

Cloete K, Šmit Ž. A Nuclear Analytical Method for Unravelling Elemental Profiles in Human Scalp Hair. Marie Curie Alumni Association, 59.

Ozdemir S, Kilinc E, Celik KS, Okumus V, Soylak M. Simultaneous preconcentrations of Co2+, Cr6+, Hg2+ and Pb2+ ions by Bacillus altitudinis immobilized nanodiamond prior to their determinations in food samples by ICP-OES. Food chemistry, (2017); 215447-453.

Vandenbroucke B, Kruth J-P. Selective laser melting of biocompatible metals for rapid manufacturing of medical parts. Rapid Prototyping Journal, (2007); 13(4): 196-203.

Grodowska K, Parczewski A. Organic solvents in the pharmaceutical industry. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica, (2010); 67(1): 3-12.

Saghazadeh A, Rezaei N. Systematic review and meta-analysis links autism and toxic metals and highlights the impact of country development status: Higher blood and erythrocyte levels for mercury and lead, and higher hair antimony, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, (2017); 79(Pt B): 340-368.

Yu X, Chen B, He M, Wang H, Tian S, et al. Facile Design of Phase Separation for Microfluidic Droplet-Based Liquid Phase Microextraction as a Front End to Electrothermal Vaporization-ICPMS for the Analysis of Trace Metals in Cells. Analytical Chemistry, (2018).

Zhu Y, Wang Y, Meng F, Li L, Wu S, et al. Distribution of metal and metalloid elements in human scalp hair in Taiyuan, China. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, (2018); 148538-545.

Li Z, Su H, Wang L, Hu D, Zhang L, et al. Epidemiological Study on Metal Pollution of Ningbo in China. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, (2018); 15(3).

Junaid M, Hashmi MZ, Malik RN. Evaluating levels and health risk of heavy metals in exposed workers from surgical instrument manufacturing industries of Sialkot, Pakistan. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, (2016); 23(18): 18010-18026.

Bocca B, Forte G, Oggiano R, Clemente S, Asara Y, et al. Level of neurotoxic metals in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A population-based case-control study. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, (2015); 359(1-2): 11-17.


  • There are currently no refbacks.