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Environmental monitoring and assessment

Arsenic levels in immigrant children from countries at risk of consuming arsenic polluted water compared to children from Barcelona.


PMID 26431705

Abstract

Arsenic is a highly toxic element that pollutes groundwater, being a major environmental problem worldwide, especially in the Bengal Basin. About 40% of patients in our outpatient clinics come from those countries, and there is no published data about their arsenic exposure. This study compares arsenic exposure between immigrant and native children. A total of 114 children (57 natives, 57 immigrants), aged 2 months to 16 years, were recruited and sociodemographic and environmental exposure data were recorded. Total arsenic in urine, hair, and nails and arsenic-speciated compounds in urine were determined. We did not find significant differences in total and inorganic arsenic levels in urine and hair, but in organic arsenic monomethylarsenic acid (MMA) and dimethylarsinous acid (DMA) in urine and in total arsenic in nails. However, these values were not in the toxic range. There were significant differences between longer than 5 years exposure and less than 5 years exposure (consumption of water from tube wells), with respect to inorganic and organic MMA arsenic in urine and total arsenic in nails. There was partial correlation between the duration of exposure and inorganic arsenic levels in urine. Immigrant children have higher arsenic levels than native children, but they are not toxic. At present, there is no need for specific arsenic screening or follow-up in immigrant children recently arrived in Spain from exposure high-risk countries.