Note: Fluoridated drinking water contains arsenic.
Mice exposed in the womb and after birth to high levels of arsenic were more susceptible to influenza than unexposed mice, according to a new study by Australian researchers. These co-exposures could be an important factor in the development of chronic lung problems later in life, according to the researchers.
Mice exposed in the womb and after birth to high levels of arsenic were more susceptible to influenza than unexposed mice, according to a new study by Australian researchers.
More than 200 million people globally are exposed to arsenic in drinking water that exceeds a U.S. and international standard, according to the World Health Organization.
More than 200 million people globally are exposed to arsenic in drinking water that exceeds U.S. and internation standards.
Arsenic is an element that is naturally found in soil, and it often taints ground water. It also can come from farm runoff and industrial waste.
Mice exposed in the womb or as newborns to arsenic and influenza were less able to fight infection, had an increased inflammatory response in their airways and altered lung mechanics. These co-exposures could be an important factor in the development of chronic lung problems later in life, according to the researchers.
Cancer has been the biggest concern related to arsenic contamination of water supplies. But previous studies in animals or humans also have suggested that prenatal arsenic exposure may increase susceptibility to respiratory infections or impair lung growth and immune system development. The current study examines how arsenic exposure modifies the mouse body’s responses to influenza infection.
The mice in the study drank water contaminated with 100 parts per billion of arsenic, 10 times higher than a standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and WHO. However, some regions in the United States have groundwater that routinely exceeds 50 parts per billion, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And some countries have severe arsenic problems, particularly Bangladesh, where arsenic reaches as high as 3,000 parts per billion.
The researchers compared the exposed pregnant mice to others that drank arsenic-free water. After their offspring were born, exposure continued to either arsenic-clean or contaminated water.
One week after birth, some mouse pups were inoculated with influenza virus. Mice exposed to both arsenic and influenza had a greater inflammatory response and produced more immune cells than mice exposed to either arsenic or influenza. One week after the influenza infection, arsenic-exposed mice showed higher levels of the virus in their blood than unexposed mice.
“Those mice exposed to both arsenic and influenza had the greatest deficits in lung mechanics,” wrote the study authors from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia and University of Queensland.
An increase in airway responsiveness is one hallmark of asthma.
“These data demonstrate how exposure to arsenic in early life can alter the response to influenza infection resulting in both acute and long-term effects on respiratory health,” they wrote.
While the study suggests that the mouse lung is highly sensitive to arsenic exposure early in life, what these data mean for humans remains unclear. Further research is needed to determine if arsenic-exposed populations are at a greater risk of sickness and death from lower respiratory infections, the authors conclude.
23 AugustStatistical tool predicts arsenic risk in Chinese wells. Arsenic is found naturally in rocks and soil, but exposure to it presents a major public health problem, especially in regions where untreated groundwater is the only reliable source of drinking water. Scientists have deployed a new statistical tool that can help predict the greatest risk of contamination. Voice of America.
21 August Tornillo water high in arsenic, could cause health risks. The El Paso Equal Voice Network and U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Texas, hosted a community meeting to address complaints of dirty water in Tornillo, after the El Paso County Tornillo Water Improvement District said the drinking water there exceeds the maximum contaminant level for arsenic. El Paso KFOX TV, Texas.
20 August Heavy metals found in Chinese medicines. Health regulators have issued a warning over some Chinese medicines, saying they contain “dangerously high” levels of lead, mercury and arsenic. Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the unlicensed traditional Chinese medicines included some meant for children. Press Association.
16 August EPA to inspect Colorado milling site. Mining inspectors have found heavy pollution from mercury and arsenic inside an unpermitted gold mill on the west side of Mancos, Colorado. It’s “one of the uglier cases of using hazardous chemicals and illegal milling” that state mining regulators have seen, said Julie Murphy, a lawyer for the state Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.Cortez Journal, Colorado.
15 August Oregon Superfund cleanup nearing pivotal stage. As recently as 1990, the McCormick and Baxter Creosoting Co. dumped toxic chemicals into the river at its plant a mile south of the St. Johns Bridge — everything from the wood-treatment substance creosote to pentachlorophenol, arsenic, copper, chromium, zinc and other contaminants — which subsequently seeped into the soil and riverbed. Portland Tribune, Oregon.
14 August Water quality centre in city. An international centre for drinking water quality in Calcutta will be tasked with research on drinking water technologies, health impacts of water contaminants — with special focus on arsenic and fluoride — and the chemistry of sediments. Calcutta Telegraph, India.
10 August Court rules county liable for storm water pollution. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Los Angeles County is liable for the level of pollution found in its storm water. The decision, released Thursday, is a win for environmental groups who say the county was responsible for needed cleanup of arsenic, cyanide, lead and mercury. Santa Clarita Signal, California.
A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale. ProPublica.