Exposure to inorganic arsenic in soil increases urinary inorganic arsenic concentrations of residents living in old mining areas

A.L. Hinwood, M.R. Sim, D. Jolley, Nicholas De Klerk, E.B. Bastone, J. Gerostamoulos, O.H. Drummer

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The short term human exposure studies conducted on populations exposed to high concentrations of inorganic arsenic in soil have been inconsistent in demonstrating a relationship between environmental concentrations and exposure measures. In Australia there are many areas with very high arsenic concentrations in residential soil most typically associated with gold mining activities in rural areas. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between environmental arsenic and urinary inorganic arsenic concentrations in a population living in a gold mining area ( soil arsenic concentrations between 9 and 9900 mg kg(-1)), and a control population with low arsenic levels in soil (between 1 and 80 mg kg(-1)). Risk factors for increased urinary arsenic concentrations were also explored. There was a weak but significant relationship between soil arsenic concentrations and inorganic urinary arsenic concentration with a Spearman correlation coefficient of 0.39. When participants with greater than 100 mg kg(-1) arsenic in residential soil were selected, the coefficient increased to 0.64. The geometric mean urinary inorganic arsenic concentration for the exposed group was 1.64 mug L-1 (< detection limit - 28.4 &mu;g L-1) and for the control group was 1.18 &mu;g L-1 (< detection limit - 4.69 mug L-1). Participants with residential soil in excess of 1000 mg kg(-1) recorded a geometric mean urinary inorganic arsenic concentration of 2.46 mug L-1. In a random effects linear regression model, soil arsenic concentration was the significant predictor of increased urinary arsenic concentrations. Season was shown to have a significant influence on urinary inorganic arsenic concentrations. Other factors such as age, gender and hours of contact with soil may also be important risk factors. These results show that high concentrations of arsenic in soil can make a contribution to urinary inorganic arsenic concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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