Volcanic activity can cause hazardous effects to the environment and the health of the exposed persons such as an increased risk for the development of several cancers. In geothermal areas, volcanic gases such as radon are continuously vented from the main crater, from fumarolic fields or diffused through soil. The continued long-term exposure to radon can enhance the risk of lung cancer being considered the leading cause of lung cancer following tobacco smoking. The chronic exposure to volcanogenic radon requires the development of biomonitoring methods that will assist in the evaluation of the effects of exposure to this genotoxic element. The Human Biomonitoring with the use of exfoliated buccal cells is minimally invasive, and the endpoints of the buccal micronucleus cytome (BMCyt) assay are the biomarkers of effect most recently used to measure genetic damage for the exposure to genotoxic and cytotoxic xenobiotics. The BMCyt assay has been used in a number of occupational studies, and positive results were detected as a consequence of exposure to pesticides, metals, and industrial chemicals that are suspected to cause cancer. Regarding the chronic exposure to volcanic environments, many studies revealed a rise in the numbers of MN in buccal exfoliated cells, indicating an increased risk for cancer. This chapter aims to cover the main health hazards and biomonitoring methods for populations chronically exposed to volcanic environments, allowing an estimate of health risks and to implement risk management measures regarding the exposure to certain compounds.
Part of the book: Radon
Volcanic regions have always attracted many people worldwide because of the high fertility of their soils. However, human proximity to volcanoes can lead to several health problems as consequence of the chronic exposure to the materials released from the volcanic activity. An element often found in elevated concentrations in volcanic regions is fluorine. Although fluoride is recognized to have a beneficial effect on the rate of occurrence of dental caries when ingested in small amounts, its excessive intake results in a widespread but preventable pathological disease called fluorosis. While skeletal fluorosis, the most severe form of fluorosis, requires a chronic exposure to high concentrations of fluoride in water (4–8 mg/L), dental fluorosis occurs after shorter periods of exposure to fluoride in lower concentrations (1.5–2.0 mg/L). In some volcanic regions, where exposure to elevated amounts of fluoride is persistent, biomonitoring programs are fundamental to assess the main sources of exposure and to evaluate the effects of the exposure in resident populations. This chapter aims to cover the main effects of fluoride exposure in humans and discuss the use of a multidisciplinary approach that brings together the geoscience, biomedical, and public health communities to address environmental health problems.
Part of the book: Environmental Health
Trace elements play an essential role in the normal metabolism and physiological functions of living beings. The distribution and concentration of trace elements in the environment results from both anthropogenic and natural origins; this chapter will focus on volcanism as one of the major natural sources of trace elements. In volcanic areas, the emissions and deposits of volcanogenic elements are key factors for geochemical mobility of trace elements and their distribution in the environment and, their effects on animals and human health. Volcanic areas have been associated with increased incidence of several diseases, such as fluorosis or even some types of cancer, leveraging the studies on the potential of this natural phenomenon as a promoter of diseases. As the Azores Archipelago is a volcanic area, with several manifestations of active volcanism, this region presents itself as an ideal study scenario for a multidisciplinary approach on environmental health problems, such as the exposure to toxic and/or deficient levels of trace elements. This chapter will present an integrated approach, describing the occurrence, the monitoring of trace elements and their characterization, the biological role in human body, and the human biomonitoring and health risk assessment, using case studies as examples.
Part of the book: Trace Metals in the Environment