Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12105/5636
Compositional analysis of topsoil metals and its associations with cancer mortality using spatial misaligned data
Environ Geochem Health. 2018; 40(1): 283–294
The presence of toxic metals in soil per se, and in soil impacted by mining, industry, agriculture and urbanisation in particular, is a major concern for both human health and ecotoxicology. The dual aim of this study was: to ascertain whether topsoil composition could influence the spatial distribution of mortality due to different types of cancer and to identify possible errors committed by epidemiological studies which analyse soil composition data as a closed number system. We conducted an ecological cancer mortality study, covering 861,440 cancer deaths (27 cancer sites) in 7917 Spanish mainland towns, from 1999 to 2008. Topsoil levels of Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn were determined by ICP-MS at 13,317 sampling points. We transformed the topsoil data in two ways, i.e. log transformation and centred logratio transformation. Principal factor analysis was performed to obtain independent latent factors for the transformed variables. To estimate the effect on mortality of topsoil factor loadings, we fitted Besag, York and Mollié models embedded in geostatistical-spatial models. This model included soil sample locations and town centroids (non-aligned data), fitted using the integrated nested Laplace approximation (INLA) as a tool for Bayesian inference and stochastic partial differential equations (SPDE). All results were adjusted for socio-demographic variables. The results indicated that soil composition could have an influence on the spatial distribution and mortality patterns of cancer. The analysis adjusted for socio-demographic variables showed excess male mortality due to digestive system tumours in areas with soils containing higher Cd, Pb, Zn, Mn and Cu concentrations, bladder cancer in areas with soils containing higher Cd concentrations, and brain cancer in areas with soils containing As. In both sexes, cancer of oesophagus was associated with soils containing a higher lead content, while lung cancer was associated with soils containing a higher copper content. Stress should be laid on the importance of taking into account the compositional nature of the data in this type of analysis.
Cancer mortality | Compositional analysis | Geochemistry | Medical geology | Soil composition | Spatial data analysis