This work was based on the hypothesis that fingernail clippings can be used as a biomarker for the subchronic exposure to fluoride. The results provide data on factors that may affect the concentration of fluoride in fingernail clippings as determined with the electrode following HMDS-facilitated diffusion. The following variables had only minor or no effects on the concentrations: (1) the surface area of the clippings (intact, minced or filed into powder) that were placed into the diffusion dishes; (2) soaking in deionized water for up to 6 h; (3) soaking in fluoridated water (1.0 ppm) for 2 h, and (4) removal of the organic material of nails by dry ashing. Fingernail fluoride concentrations were approximately 50% higher than those in toenails. A 1-month period of increased fluoride intake by one of the authors resulted in significant increases in fingernail fluoride concentrations after a lag time of approximately 3.5 months. The fluoride concentrations in fingernail clippings obtained from three groups of Brazilian children were directly related to the concentrations in the drinking water (0.1, 1.6 or 2.3 ppm). The results indicate that: (1) HMDS-facilitated diffusion completely separates fluoride from intact nail clippings, so the need for ashing or other preparative methods is obviated; (2) fingernail fluoride is derived mainly from the systemic circulation, and (3) fluoride intake is reflected by the concentrations in fingernails.
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