The problem thallium in Pietrasanta


  • Daniela Nuvolone Agenzia regionale di Sanità della Toscana, Firenze
  • Maria Cristina Aprea Laboratorio di Sanità Pubblica Area Vasta Sud Est, Azienda USL Toscana Sud Est - Regione Toscana
  • Gianfranco Sciarra Laboratorio di Sanità Pubblica Area Vasta Sud Est, Azienda USL Toscana Sud Est - Regione Toscana
  • Francesco Cipriani Agenzia regionale di Sanità della Toscana, Firenze
  • Silvano Bertelloni Sezione Medicina dell’Adolescenza, UO Pediatria Universitaria, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana, Pisa
  • Stefano Pieroni Agenzia regionale di Sanità della Toscana, Firenze
  • Ida Ragona Agenzia regionale di Sanità della Toscana, Firenze



Human biomonitoring, biological reference values, drinking water, epidemiological study


 During 2014-2015 in some drinking-water sources of Pietrasanta (Tuscany, Italy) there has been the occasional finding of levels of thallium exceeding 2 μg/L, indicated by US authorities (Environmental Protection Agency-EPA) as the maximum allowed limit in drinking water. The applied control measures caused the reduction of thallium level below the provisional maximum allowable concentration in every water distribution system. To assess the levels of human exposure to thallium through contaminated water and possible health effects, a study of human biomonitoring and an epidemiological retrospective cohort study were implemented.

Thallium urinary concentrations, within two weeks from the issue of municipal ordinances to ban drinking contaminated water use, were: geometric mean 0.42 µg/L; min-max 0.005-8.96 µg/L. About two months after the cessation of exposure there was a significant (p <0.001) reduction in urinary metal values (geometric mean 0.29 µg/L; min-max 0.005-5.44 µg/L).

The rarity of studies on thallium requires extreme caution in assessing results. Careful long-term follow-up of the exposure of the inhabitants of the affected area will be crucial to detect any specific health issues.


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