Chronic kidney disease of uncertain aetiology and its relation with waterborne environmental toxins: An investigation via compositional balances

Jennifer McKinley*, Ute Mueller, Peter Atkinson, Ulrich Ofterdinger, Siobhan Cox, Rory Doherty, Damian Fogarty, Juan José Egozcue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The occurrence of environmental clusters of chronic kidney disease of uncertain aetiology (CKDu), where there is no known cause for the onset of kidney dys-function, is a concern globally. Waterborne exposure pathways in the environ-ment may result in indirect or direct ingestion of trace elements with potential health risks. This research examines the relationship between standardized inci-dence rates (SIRs) of CKDu and the log-ratio balances of potentially toxic ele-ments (PTEs) in regional stream water. Compositional elemental balances were created and regression was used to identify the balances most associated with log-transformed SIR CKDu. At the regional scale, a statistically significant rela-tionship was found between log(CKDu SIR) and the elemental balance Al/As which effectively delineates different geological domains across Northern Ire-land. Following stratification by basalt bedrock (the dominant bedrock geology for SIR CKDu), the balance Al/Fe was identified as significantly associated with log(CKDu SIR). Superficial deposits, dissolved organic carbon and pH may act as controls on the balance of Al and Fe. With a high proportion of private water supplies registered in these areas, this research highlights the importance of con-sidering bedrock geology and superficial deposits in understanding multi-element interactions of waterborne environmental toxins and potential links with environmental clusters of CKDu.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Computational Algorithms and Data Analysis
Subtitle of host publicationFestschrift in Honour of Vera Pawlowsky-Glann
EditorsPeter Filzmoser, Karel Hron, Josep Antoni Martín-Fernández, Javier Palarea-Albaladejo
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-71175-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-71174-0
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021


  • geochemistry
  • Statistics
  • compositional data analysis
  • earth science
  • Computer science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geology
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Statistics and Probability


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