PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (10): 1677-1686.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.10.007

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Selenium levels in the environment, food, and human hair in Kashin-Beck Disease endemic areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

WANG Jing1,2(), LI Hairong2,3,*(), YANG Linsheng2,3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory for Geographical Process Analysis & Simulation, Research Institute of Sustainable Development, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-12-02 Revised:2020-01-16 Online:2020-10-28 Published:2020-12-28
  • Contact: LI Hairong;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41907390);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41671500);The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research(2019QZKK0607);Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities(CCNU18XJ029)


To investigate the current status of the distribution of selenium (Se) in the environment, food, and human body in the Kashin-Beck Disease (KBD) endemic areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, literature on Se contents in soil, food, drinking water, and human hair in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau KBD endemic areas published during 2000-2018 were searched and collected from databases including the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Web of Science (WoS), and Google Scholar. Based on a series of selection criteria, 33 of the retrieved articles were identified and valid data were extracted for statistical analysis. The results show that the natural environment in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau KBD endemic areas was still in low-Se cycle status. Average Se contents in cultivated soil and drinking water were 0.147 mg·kg-1 and 0.54 μg·L-1; average Se contents in local-produced highland barley, wheat, and tsamba and imported rice were 9.27, 19.08, 11.07, and 43.29 μg·kg-1, respectively. Compared with the years before 1990, a clear increasing trend was observed in Se nutrition level of children in the KBD endemic areas. The average Se content in children's hair was 0.234 mg·kg-1, which is basically above the low-Se range (< 0.20 mg·kg-1). No significant correlation was observed between total soil Se and Se in children's hair (r=0.125, P>0.05, N=23). The inconsistent changing trend of Se levels between children's hair and the natural environment in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau KBD areas suggests that social and human interventions increased the input of exogenous Se, which weakened the dependence of local residents on the low-Se environment to some extent. This might be the main reason that the prevalence of KBD in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau declined steadily and was brought under effective control.

Key words: Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Kashin-Beck Disease (KBD), environment, children, selenium