Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Jul;108(7):617-20.

Arsenic-induced skin lesions among Atacameño people in Northern Chile despite good nutrition and centuries of exposure.

Author information

1
School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley 94720-7360, USA. ahsmith@uclink4.berkeley.edu

Abstract

It has been suggested that the indigenous Atacameño people in Northern Chile might be protected from the health effects of arsenic in drinking water because of many centuries of exposure. Here we report on the first intensive investigation of arsenic-induced skin lesions in this population. We selected 11 families (44 participants) from the village of Chiu Chiu, which is supplied with water containing between 750 and 800 microg/L inorganic arsenic. For comparison, 8 families (31 participants) were also selected from a village where the water contains approximately 10 microg/L inorganic arsenic. After being transported to the nearest city for blind assessment, participants were examined by four physicians with experience in studying arsenic-induced lesions. Four of the six men from the exposed village, who had been drinking the contaminated water for more than 20 years, were diagnosed with skin lesions due to arsenic, but none of the women had definite lesions. A 13-year-old girl had definite skin pigmentation changes due to arsenic, and a 19-year-old boy had both pigmentation changes and keratoses on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet. Family interviews identified a wide range of fruits and vegetables consumed daily by the affected participants, as well as the weekly intake of red meat and chicken. However, the prevalence of skin lesions among men and children in the small population studied was similar to that reported with corresponding arsenic drinking water concentrations in both Taiwan and West Bengal, India--populations in which extensive malnutrition has been thought to increase susceptibility.

PMID:
10903614
PMCID:
PMC1638201
DOI:
10.1289/ehp.00108617
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center