human hair was used as a bioindicator to evaluate the levels of as, cd, pb and hg in the resident population of the "volta grande" area of the xingu river, in the north of brazil. the concentrations of as and cd are in agreement with the values found in the literature, however, the pb and hg concentration is very different, which can suggest an inter-regional variation. moreover, the high values found for these elements in the residents of the canteiro island can be attributed to environmental exposure of this population in an area with environmental impact from activities of gold mining. the application of these methods showed that the concentrations of the metals studied in this work can correctly classify two different localities in the altamira district. the results reflect the impact of these elements on the health of the inhabitants of this auriferous area.