Health Effects of Arsenic and Chromium in Drinking Water: Recent Human Findings
Posted: 4 Jun 2009
Date Written: June 4, 2009
Even at high concentrations, arsenic-contaminated water is translucent, tasteless, and odorless. Yet almost every day, studies report a continually increasing plethora of toxic effects that have manifested in exposed populations throughout the world. In this article we focus on recent findings, in particular those associated with major contributions since 2006. Early life exposure, both in utero and in childhood, has been receiving increased attention, and remarkable increases in consequent mortality in young adults have been reported. New studies address the dose-response relationship between drinking-water arsenic concentrations and skin lesions, and new findings have emerged concerning arsenic and cardiovascular disease. We also review the increasing epidemiological evidence that the first step of methylation of inorganic arsenic to monomethylated arsenic (MMA) is actually an activation step rather than the first step in detoxification, as once thought. Hexavalent chromium differs from arsenic in that it discolors water, turning the water yellow at high concentrations. A controversial issue is whether chromium causes cancer when ingested. A recent publication supports the original findings in China of increased cancer mortality in a population where well water turned yellow with chromium.
Keywords: early life exposure, skin lesions, childhood cancer, methylation
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