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High risks of lung disease associated with early-life and moderate lifetime arsenic exposure in northern Chile

  • Author(s): Steinmaus, C
  • Ferreccio, C
  • Acevedo, J
  • Balmes, JR
  • Liaw, J
  • Troncoso, P
  • Dauphiné, DC
  • Nardone, A
  • Smith, AH
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Background Arsenic in drinking water has been associated with increases in lung disease, but information on the long-term impacts of early-life exposure or moderate exposure levels are limited. Methods We investigated pulmonary disease and lung function in 795 subjects from three socio-demographically similar areas in northern Chile: Antofagasta, which had a well-described period of high arsenic water concentrations (860 μg/L) from 1958 to 1970; Iquique, which had long-term arsenic water concentrations near 60 μg/L; and Arica, with long-term water concentrations ≤ 10 μg/L. Results Compared to adults never exposed > 10 μg/L, adults born in Antofagasta during the high exposure period had elevated odds ratios (OR) of respiratory symptoms (e.g., OR for shortness of breath = 5.56, 90% confidence interval (CI): 2.68–11.5), and decreases in pulmonary function (e.g., 224 mL decrease in forced vital capacity in nonsmokers, 90% CI: 97–351 mL). Subjects with long-term exposure to arsenic water concentrations near 60 μg/L also had increases in some pulmonary symptoms and reduced lung function. Conclusions Overall, these findings provide new evidence that in utero or childhood arsenic exposure is associated with non-malignant pulmonary disease in adults. They also provide preliminary new evidence that long-term exposures to moderate levels of arsenic may be associated with lung toxicity, although the magnitude of these latter findings were greater than expected and should be confirmed.

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