Influence of Growth Rate and Length on Fluoride Detection in Human Nails

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This study aimed to determine the lag time between increased fluoride (F) intake and F detection in human nails, as well as the influence of nails growth rate and length on this. Ten 20- to 35-year-old volunteers received 1.8 mg F daily, for 30 days. Nail growth rate and length were determined for all fingernails and toenails. Nail samples were collected at the beginning of the study and every 2 weeks (15 collections in all) and F concentrations were determined. The growth rate was statistically higher in fingernails than in toenails. No statistically significant differences were observed between right and left sides. Growth rate was significantly greater for big toenails than for the other toenails, but this pattern was not found for fingernails. The estimated mean lag times for F detection in fingernails and toenails were 101 and 123 days, respectively. An apparent increase in fingernail F concentrations was observed 84 days after the beginning of the study, although this was not statistically different from baseline. For toenails, statistically significant increases in F concentration in relation to baseline were observed 112 and 140 days after increased F ingestion. These increases occurred within the 95% confidence intervals for the calculated mean lag time for fluoride detection in nails. Considering the large amount of sample provided by the big toenails, together with their faster growth rate, as well as the fact that toenails are less prone to environmental contamination, our data suggest that big toenails are more suitable biomarkers of fluoride intake.

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