Trace Metals in the Environment and Population as Possible Long Term Consequence of War in Osijek-Baranja County, Croatia
War in Croatia resulted with a significant release of contaminants into the environment as a result of the use of combat assets, mainly conventional, mostly aimed at civilian targets. The aim of the study was to investigate the concentration of metals and metalloids in the soils, water, plants (Taraxacum officinale), serum, urine and hair of the inhabitants in eastern Croatia. Overall results show minor abnormalities in presence of some trace metals in soil (As, Hg, Pb, Sb), water (As, Fe) and dandelion leaves (As) in some locations. Compared with soil samples from areas exposed to low intensity combat activity soil samples from areas exposed to heavy fighting had higher concentrations of As, Hg and Pb than allowed by national legislation for ecologic farming. Drinking water with the exceptions of the concentrations of Fe, As and Mn was in accordance with national legislation. Examinees from Dalj had mean hair Sb level 10-19x higher then examinees from any other location. However, when these data are correlated through methods of Principal Component Analysis, presence of trace metals in some war affected areas can be followed from soil, through plants up to population proving that intense combat activities over small area leave metal presence that can be followed even 15 years after the war.