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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2001 Nov 23;64(6):473-84.

Analyses of micronuclei in exfoliated epithelial cells from individuals chronically exposed to arsenic via drinking water in inner Mongolia, China.

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University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.


The groundwater in Bayingnormen (Ba Men), located in Central West Inner Mongolia, China, is naturally contaminated with arsenic at concentrations ranging from 50 microg/L to 1.8 mg/L. Various adverse health effects in this region, including cancer, have been linked to arsenic exposure via drinking water. A pilot study was undertaken to evaluate frequencies of micronuclei (MN), as measures of chromosomal alterations, in multiple exfoliated epithelial cell types from residents of Ba Men chronically exposed to arsenic via drinking water. Buccal mucosal cells, airway epithelial cells in sputum, and bladder urothelial cells were collected from 19 residents exposed to high levels of arsenic in drinking water (527.5 +/- 24 microg/l), and from 13 control residents exposed to relatively low levels of arsenic in drinking water (4.4 +/- microg/L). Analytical results from these individuals revealed that MN frequencies in the high-exposure group were significantly elevated to 3.4-fold over control levels for buccal and sputum cells, and to 2.7-fold over control for bladder cells (increases in MN frequency significant at p < .001 for buccal cells; p < .01 for sputum cells; p < .05 for bladder cells). When smokers were excluded from high-exposure and control groups the effects of arsenic were observed to be greater, although only in buccal and sputum cells; approximately 6-fold increases in MN frequency occurred in these tissues. The results indicate that residents of Ba Men chronically exposed to high levels of arsenic in drinking water reveal evidence of genotoxicity in multiple epithelial cell types; higher levels of induced MN were observed in buccal and sputum cells than in bladder cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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