Abstract: The use of the pesticides and chemical fertilizers in agricultural sector releases plenty types of heavy metals to environment and brings adverse effects to human health. Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), Nickel (Ni) and Cobalt (Co) are toxic heavy metals to harm human health. Presence of keratin in hairs and nails allows the accumulation of metals elements in longer period. Thus, hairs and nails are suitable to be used as biological marker in the study of human exposure to heavy metal elements. The purpose of this study was to determine As, Cd, Pb, Ni and Co levels in hairs, fingernails and toenails of vegetable farmers. There were 90 Bangladesh farmers participated in this research by using universal sampling. Questionnaires have been carried out to collect the demographic data, working periods of the farmers and blood pressure. As, Cd, Pb, Ni and Co levels were analyzed by using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Result showed that there was significant difference of As, Cd, Pb and Ni levels among hairs, fingernails and toenails, p<0.05. The levels of As (90.56±10.19 μg L-1) and Cd (34.57±3.44 μg L-1) in toenails were found to be highest whereas the levels of Pb (74.73±7.93 μg L-1) and Ni (694.12±19.70 μg L-1) in fingernails were found to be highest with the mean level. ANOVA test showed that Co levels in toenails were significantly higher in farmers with hypertension (22.51±3.61 μg L-1). Kruskal-Wallis test showed that As (H = 10.64, p<0.05) and Cd (H = 7.34, p<0.05) levels in toenails were significantly higher in farmers with hypertension. There was a significant weak negative relationship among As (r = -0.44, p<0.05), Cd (r = -0.43, p<0.05), Pb (r = 0.32, p<0.05) and Ni (r = -0.31, p<0.05) in fingernails together with Pb (r = -0.29, p<0.05) levels in toenails with working periods of farmers shown by Spearman correlation test. Almost all farmers from different blood pressure groups shower after handling pesticides and fertilizers significantly (p<0.05). The 66 famers have good knowledge from different working periods and there was a significant different between individuals knowledge and working periods (p<0.05). As a conclusion, As, Cd, Pb, Ni, Co levels among vegetable farmers were lower than earlier studies and remained at a safety level.
N.Z.M. Saat, S.Y. Chow, A.R. Ghazali, Z.A. Hamid, S.H. Lubis, N. Mohamed, I. Ishak and H. Othman, 2013. Study of Heavy Metal Levels in Nails and Hairs among Vegetable Farmers in Malaysia. Research Journal of Applied Sciences, 8: 449-455.