Contamination of Chile's drinking water with arsenic and cancer levels
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A description of the experience
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Apr;22(4):623-30. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1190. Epub 2013 Jan 25. Drinking water arsenic in northern chile: high cancer risks 40 years after exposure cessation. Steinmaus CM1, Ferreccio C, Romo JA, Yuan Y, Cortes S, Marshall G, Moore LE, Balmes JR, Liaw J, Golden T, Smith AH.
BACKGROUND: Millions of people worldwide are exposed to arsenic-contaminated water. In the largest city in northern Chile (Antofagasta), more than 250,000 people were exposed to high arsenic drinking water concentrations from 1958 until 1970 when a water treatment plant was installed. Because of its unique geology, limited water sources, and good historical records, lifetime exposure and long-term latency patterns can be assessed in this area with better accuracy than in other arsenic-exposed areas worldwide.
METHODS: We conducted a population-based case-control study in northern Chile from October 2007 to December 2010 involving 232 bladder and 306 lung cancer cases and 640 age- and gender-matched controls, with detailed information on past exposure and potential confounders, including smoking and occupation.
RESULTS: Bladder cancer ORs for quartiles of average arsenic concentrations in water before 1971 (<11, 11-90, 91-335, and >335 μg/L) were 1.00, 1.36 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.78-2.37], 3.87 (2.25-6.64), and 6.50 (3.69-11.43), respectively. Corresponding lung cancer ORs were 1.00, 1.27 (0.81-1.98), 2.00 (1.24-3.24), and 4.32 (2.60-7.17). Bladder and lung cancer ORs in those highly exposed in Antofagasta during 1958 to 1970 but not thereafter were 6.88 (3.84-12.32) and 4.35 (2.57-7.36), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: The lung and bladder cancer risks that we found up to 40 years after high exposures have ended are very high.
IMPACT: Our findings suggest that prevention, treatment, and other mortality reduction efforts in arsenic-exposed countries will be needed for decades after exposure cessation.
The source of the experiencePubMed
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