Geochemistry and health in the United Kingdom

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
I Thornton, J S Webb


Before the 1960s, comparisons between the distribution of trace elements in the environment and health in the United Kingdom were primarily confined to ad hoc studies in areas associated with particular agricultural disorders or with unusual human mortality or morbidity records. More recently, increasing interest in the importance of trace elements in crop and animal production and in the hazards of environmental pollution have created a need for more systematic geochemical data. Geochemical reconnaissance maps for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland have demonstrated the extent of many known clinical trace element problems in agriculture and have also been valuable in delineating areas within which subclinical disorders may occur. Their application to studies on the composition of soils, food crops and surface waters in relation to public health has proved encouraging. Current knowledge and present investigations into environmental geochemistry and human health in the U.K. are reviewed, together with future research requirements.


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