Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Environmental Geochemistry and Health






School of Science




McKinley, J. M., Mueller, U., Atkinson, P. M., Ofterdinger, U., Cox, S. F., Doherty, R., ... & Pawlowsky-Glahn, V. (2020). Chronic kidney disease of unknown origin is associated with environmental urbanisation in Belfast, UK. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 1-18.


© 2020, The Author(s). Chronic kidney disease (CKD), a collective term for many causes of progressive renal failure, is increasing worldwide due to ageing, obesity and diabetes. However, these factors cannot explain the many environmental clusters of renal disease that are known to occur globally. This study uses data from the UK Renal Registry (UKRR) including CKD of uncertain aetiology (CKDu) to investigate environmental factors in Belfast, UK. Urbanisation has been reported to have an increasing impact on soils. Using an urban soil geochemistry database of elemental concentrations of potentially toxic elements (PTEs), we investigated the association of the standardised incidence rates (SIRs) of both CKD and CKD of uncertain aetiology (CKDu) with environmental factors (PTEs), controlling for social deprivation. A compositional data analysis approach was used through balances (a special class of log contrasts) to identify elemental balances associated with CKDu. A statistically significant relationship was observed between CKD with the social deprivation measures of employment, income and education (significance levels of 0.001, 0.01 and 0.001, respectively), which have been used as a proxy for socio-economic factors such as smoking. Using three alternative regression methods (linear, generalised linear and Tweedie models), the elemental balances of Cr/Ni and As/Mo were found to produce the largest correlation with CKDu. Geogenic and atmospheric pollution deposition, traffic and brake wear emissions have been cited as sources for these PTEs which have been linked to kidney damage. This research, thus, sheds light on the increasing global burden of CKD and, in particular, the environmental and anthropogenic factors that may be linked to CKDu, particularly environmental PTEs linked to urbanisation.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.