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1.  Lead, mercury and cadmium in umbilical cord blood and its association with parental epidemiological variables and birth factors 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:841.
In Spain, few studies have evaluated prenatal exposure to heavy metals. The objective of this study was to describe lead, mercury and cadmium concentrations in blood from a sample of newborn–mother-father trios, as well as to investigate the association between metals in cord blood and parental variables. We also explored the relationship between cord blood metal concentrations and child characteristics at birth.
Metal correlations among family members were assessed using Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient. Linear regression was used to explore the association between parental variables and log-transformed cord blood lead and cord blood mercury concentrations. In the case of cadmium, tobit regression was used due to the existence of samples below the detection limit. The association between cord blood metal concentrations and child characteristics at birth was evaluated using linear regression.
Geometric means for lead, mercury and cadmium were 14.09 μg/L, 6.72 μg/L and 0.27 μg/L in newborns; 19.80 μg/L, 3.90 μg/L and 0.53 μg/L in pregnant women; and 33.00 μg/L, 5.38 μg/L and 0.49 μg/L in men. Positive correlations were found between metal concentrations among members of the trio. Lead and cadmium concentrations were 15% and 22% higher in newborns from mothers who smoked during pregnancy, while mercury concentrations were 25% higher in newborns from mothers with greater fish intake. Cord-blood lead levels showed seasonal periodicity, with lower concentrations observed in winter. Cord blood cadmium concentrations over 0.29 μg/L were associated with lower 1-minute and 5-minute Apgar scores.
These results reinforce the need to establish biomonitoring programs in Spain, and provide support for tobacco smoke and fish consumption as important preventable sources of heavy metal exposure in newborns. Additionally, our findings support the hypothesis that cadmium exposure might be deleterious to fetal development.
PMCID: PMC3848449  PMID: 24028648
Cadmium; Lead; Mercury; Biomarker; Environmental pollution; Tobacco; Pregnancy
2.  Role of educational level in the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and health-related quality of life (HRQL) among rural Spanish women 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:120.
The impact of obesity on health-related quality of life (HRQL) has been little explored in rural areas. The goal of this study is to ascertain the association between obesity and HRQL among Spanish women living in a rural area, and the influence of their educational level.
Cross-sectional study with personal interview of 1298 women (aged 18 to 60) randomly selected from the electoral rolls of 14 towns in Galicia, a region in the north-west of Spain. HRQL was assessed using the SF-36 questionnaire. The association between body mass index (BMI) and suboptimal scores in the different HRQL dimensions was summarised using odds ratios (ORs), obtained from multivariate logistic regression models. Separate analyses were conducted for women who had finished their education younger than 16 years old and women with secondary education to assess differences in the relationship between BMI and HRQL according to educational level.
Among women with primary or lower education, obesity was associated with a higher prevalence of suboptimal values in the following dimensions: Physical functioning (OR: 1.97; 95%CI: 1.22–3.18); Role-physical (OR: 1.81; 95%CI: 1.04–3.14); General health (OR: 1.76; 95%CI: 1.10–2.81); and Role-emotional (OR: 2.52; 95%CI: 1.27–5.03). In women with higher education, physical functioning was the only dimension associated with obesity (OR: 2.02: 95%CI 0.83–4.97).
The impact of obesity on women's HRQL is greater among those with a lower educational level. This group registered higher prevalence of obesity and poorer self-perceived health.
PMCID: PMC2696428  PMID: 19405963
3.  Health-related quality of life and mental health in the medium-term aftermath of the Prestige oil spill in Galiza (Spain): a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:245.
In 2002 the oil-tanker Prestige sank off the Galician coast. This study analyzes the effect of this accident on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and mental health in the affected population.
Using random sampling stratified by age and sex, 2700 residents were selected from 7 coastal and 7 inland Galician towns. Two exposure criteria were considered: a) residential exposure, i.e., coast versus interior; and b) individual exposure-unaffected, slightly affected, or seriously affected-according to degree of personal affectation. SF-36, GHQ-28, HADS and GADS questionnaires were used to assess HRQoL and mental health. Association of exposure with suboptimal scores was summarized using adjusted odds ratios (OR) obtained from logistic regression.
For residential exposure, the SF-36 showed coastal residents as having a lower likelihood of registering suboptimal HRQoL values in physical functioning (OR:0.69; 95%CI:0.54–0.89) and bodily pain (OR:0.74; 95%CI:0.62–0.91), and a higher frequency of suboptimal scores in mental health (OR:1.28; 95%CI:1.02–1.58). None of the dimensions of the other questionnaires displayed statistically significant differences.
For individual exposure, no substantial differences were observed, though the SF-36 physical functioning dimension rose (showed better scores) with level of exposure (91.51 unaffected, 93.86 slightly affected, 95.28 seriously affected, p < 0.001).
Almost one and a half years after the accident, worse HRQoL and mental health levels were not in evidence among subjects exposed to the oil-spill. Nevertheless, some of the scales suggest the possibility of slight impact on the mental health of residents in the affected areas.
PMCID: PMC2194772  PMID: 17875207
4.  Socio-economic class, rurality and risk of cutaneous melanoma by site and gender in Sweden 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:33.
Cutaneous melanoma (CM) is a cancer usually associated with high socio-economic level in the literature. Few studies have, however, assessed this relationship by gender and site or the association between CM and rurality.
A major-sized historical occupational Swedish cohort comprising 2,992,166 workers was used to estimate relative risk of cutaneous melanoma, broken down by gender and anatomical site, for occupational sectors (as a proxy of socio-economic class) and rurality. To this end, Poisson models were fitted for each site in men and women, including occupational sector and town size, with adjustment for age, period of diagnosis and geographical area as possible confounding factors.
White collar workers presented a marked increased of risk in men in all melanoma cases, as well as in trunk, upper and lower limbs. This pattern was less clear for women, in which some heterogeneity appeared, as low risks in lower socioeconomic sectors in trunk, or risk excesses in white collar workers in lower limbs did not achieve statistical significance. Males also showed significant differences in risk by rural/urban distribution, but in women this association was limited to CM of lower limb. Risk of CM of head/neck did not vary by occupational sector or town size, thus depicting a specific epidemiological profile, which proved common to both sexes.
While differences in risk between men and women could suggest greater homogeneity in UV-exposure behaviour among women, the uniform risk pattern in head and neck melanoma, present in both sexes, might support the coexistence of different aetiological pathways, related to anatomical site.
PMCID: PMC2266924  PMID: 18221505
5.  Study of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma mortality associated with industrial pollution in Spain, using Poisson models 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:26.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs) have been linked to proximity to industrial areas, but evidence regarding the health risk posed by residence near pollutant industries is very limited. The European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) is a public register that furnishes valuable information on industries that release pollutants to air and water, along with their geographical location.
This study sought to explore the relationship between NHL mortality in small areas in Spain and environmental exposure to pollutant emissions from EPER-registered industries, using three Poisson-regression-based mathematical models.
Observed cases were drawn from mortality registries in Spain for the period 1994–2003. Industries were grouped into the following sectors: energy; metal; mineral; organic chemicals; waste; paper; food; and use of solvents. Populations having an industry within a radius of 1, 1.5, or 2 kilometres from the municipal centroid were deemed to be exposed. Municipalities outside those radii were considered as reference populations.
The relative risks (RRs) associated with proximity to pollutant industries were estimated using the following methods: Poisson Regression; mixed Poisson model with random provincial effect; and spatial autoregressive modelling (BYM model).
Only proximity of paper industries to population centres (>2 km) could be associated with a greater risk of NHL mortality (mixed model: RR:1.24, 95% CI:1.09–1.42; BYM model: RR:1.21, 95% CI:1.01–1.45; Poisson model: RR:1.16, 95% CI:1.06–1.27). Spatial models yielded higher estimates.
The reported association between exposure to air pollution from the paper, pulp and board industry and NHL mortality is independent of the model used. Inclusion of spatial random effects terms in the risk estimate improves the study of associations between environmental exposures and mortality.
The EPER could be of great utility when studying the effects of industrial pollution on the health of the population.
PMCID: PMC2662834  PMID: 19159450
6.  Association between health information, use of protective devices and occurrence of acute health problems in the Prestige oil spill clean-up in Asturias and Cantabria (Spain): a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:1.
This paper examines the association between use of protective devices, frequency of acute health problems and health-protection information received by participants engaged in the Prestige oil spill clean-up in Asturias and Cantabria, Spain.
We studied 133 seamen, 135 bird cleaners, 266 volunteers and 265 paid workers selected by random sampling, stratified by type of worker and number of working days. Information was collected by telephone interview conducted in June 2003. The association of interest was summarized, using odds ratios (OR) obtained from logistic regression.
Health-protection briefing was associated with use of protective devices and clothing. Uninformed subjects registered a significant excess risk of itchy eyes (OR:2.89; 95%CI:1.21–6.90), nausea/vomiting/dizziness (OR:2.25; 95%CI:1.17–4.32) and throat and respiratory problems (OR:2.30; 95%CI:1.15–4.61). There was a noteworthy significant excess risk of headaches (OR:3.86: 95%CI:1.74–8.54) and respiratory problems (OR:2.43; 95%CI:1.02–5.79) among uninformed paid workers. Seamen, the group most exposed to the fuel-oil, were the worst informed and registered the highest frequency of toxicological problems.
Proper health-protection briefing was associated with greater use of protective devices and lower frequency of health problems. Among seamen, however, the results indicate poorer dissemination of information and the need of specific guidelines for removing fuel-oil at sea.
PMCID: PMC1368965  PMID: 16390547
7.  Lung cancer mortality in towns near paper, pulp and board industries in Spain: a point source pollution study 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:288.
This study sought to ascertain whether there might be excess lung cancer mortality among the population residing in the vicinity of Spanish paper and board industries which report their emissions to the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER).
This was an ecological study that modelled the Standardised Mortality Ratio (SMR) for lung cancer in 8073 Spanish towns over the period 1994–2003. Population exposure to industrial pollution was estimated on the basis of distance from town of residence to pollution source. An exploratory, near-versus-far analysis was conducted, using mixed Poisson regression models and an analysis of the effect of municipal proximity within a 50-kilometre radius of each of the 18 installations.
Results varied for the different facilities. In two instances there was an increasing mortality gradient with proximity to the installation, though this was exclusively observed among men.
The study of cancer mortality in areas surrounding pollutant foci is a useful tool for environmental surveillance, and serves to highlight areas of interest susceptible to being investigated by ad hoc studies. Despite present limitations, recognition is therefore due to the advance represented by publication of the EPER and the study of pollutant foci.
PMCID: PMC2527328  PMID: 18702814
8.  Description of industrial pollution in Spain 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:40.
Toxic substances released into the environment (to both air and water) by many types of industries might be related with the occurrence of some malignant tumours and other diseases. The publication of the EPER (European Pollutant Emission Register) Spanish data allows to investigate the presence of geographical mortality patterns related to industrial pollution. The aim of this paper is to describe industrial air and water pollution in Spain in 2001, broken down by activity group and specific pollutant, and to plot maps depicting emissions of carcinogenic substances.
All information on industrial pollution discharge in 2001 was drawn from EPER-Spain public records provided by the European Commission server. We described the distribution of the number of industries and amounts discharged for each pollutant, as well as emission by pollutant group and the industrial activities associated with each pollutant. Maps of Spain were drawn up, with UTM coordinates being used to plot pollutant foci, and circles with an area proportional to the emission to depict pollution emission values.
The EPER-Spain contained information on 1,437 industrial installations. The industrial plants that discharge pollutant substances into air and water above the pollutant-specific EPER threshold were mainly situated in the Autonomous Regions of Aragon, Andalusia and Catalonia and in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Andalusia respectively. Pollution released in 2001 into air approached 158 million Mt. Emissions into water were over 8 million Mt.
A few single industrial plants are responsible for the highest percentage of emissions, thus rendering monitoring of their possible health impact on the surrounding population that much simpler. Among European countries Spain is the leading polluter in almost one third of all EPER-registered pollutant substances released into the air and ranks among the top three leading polluters in two-thirds of all such substances. Information obtained through publication of EPER data means that the possible consequences of reported pollutant foci on the health of neighbouring populations can now be studied.
PMCID: PMC1847682  PMID: 17376231
9.  Municipal mortality due to thyroid cancer in Spain 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:302.
Thyroid cancer is a tumor with a low but growing incidence in Spain. This study sought to depict its spatial municipal mortality pattern, using the classic model proposed by Besag, York and Mollié.
It was possible to compile and ascertain the posterior distribution of relative risk on the basis of a single Bayesian spatial model covering all of Spain's 8077 municipal areas. Maps were plotted depicting standardized mortality ratios, smoothed relative risk (RR) estimates, and the posterior probability that RR > 1.
From 1989 to 1998 a total of 2,538 thyroid cancer deaths were registered in 1,041 municipalities. The highest relative risks were mostly situated in the Canary Islands, the province of Lugo, the east of La Coruña (Corunna) and western areas of Asturias and Orense.
The observed mortality pattern coincides with areas in Spain where goiter has been declared endemic. The higher frequency in these same areas of undifferentiated, more aggressive carcinomas could be reflected in the mortality figures. Other unknown genetic or environmental factors could also play a role in the etiology of this tumor.
PMCID: PMC1764886  PMID: 17173668

Results 1-9 (9)