Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours


School of Natural Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Andrea Hinwood

Second Advisor

Dr Mary Boyce


This is a cross-sectional study of lead and nickel exposure of children aged 2-12 years living at varying distances from a point source of pollution in Esperance. Esperance was an ideal case study location because of previous environmental contamination with lead and nickel above background levels. Non-invasive biological samples of hair, toenails and urine were collected from participating children, and environmental samples, including house dust, soil and drinking water were also sampled from each participant household. Exposure was assessed by measuring the concentration of metals found in the biological samples, and determining their relationships with the environmental samples from each child's household. Questionnaires gathered demographic and lifestyle data, which was used to explore possible relationships with exposure. Household dust had low concentrations of lead however there was some evidence of elevated nickel concentrations. Soil lead and nickel concentrations were below Australian guidelines. Low concentrations of lead were observed in drinking water however two drinking water samples were above the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines for nickel. Due to the low sample mass of children's toenails, the majority of the toenail samples were below the method detection limits. Hair and urinary lead and nickel concentrations were observed to be within published reference ranges although there was evidence of elevated environmental concentrations of lead and nickel.