Journal Article

Decrements in Lung Function Related to Arsenic in Drinking Water in West Bengal, India

Ondine S. von Ehrenstein, D. N. Guha Mazumder, Yan Yuan, Sambit Samanta, John Balmes, Arabinda Sil, Nilima Ghosh, Meera Hira-Smith, Reina Haque, Radhika Purushothamam, Sarbari Lahiri, Subhankar Das and Allan H. Smith

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 162, issue 6, pages 533-541
Published in print September 2005 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online September 2005 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Decrements in Lung Function Related to Arsenic in Drinking Water in West Bengal, India

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During 1998–2000, the authors investigated relations between lung function, respiratory symptoms, and arsenic in drinking water among 287 study participants, including 132 with arsenic-caused skin lesions, in West Bengal, India. The source population involved 7,683 participants who had been surveyed for arsenic-related skin lesions in 1995–1996. Respiratory symptoms were increased among men with arsenic-caused skin lesions (versus those without lesions), particularly “shortness of breath at night” (odds ratio (OR) = 2.8, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 7.6) and “morning cough” (OR = 2.8, 95% CI: 1.2, 6.6) in smokers and “shortness of breath ever” (OR = 3.8, 95% CI: 0.7, 20.6) in nonsmokers. Among men with skin lesions, the average adjusted forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was reduced by 256.2 ml (95% CI: 113.9, 398.4; p < 0.001) and the average adjusted forced vital capacity (FVC) was reduced by 287.8 ml (95% CI: 134.9, 440.8; p < 0.001). In men, a 100-μg/liter increase in arsenic level was associated with a 45.0-ml decrease (95% CI: 6.2, 83.9) in FEV1 (p = 0.02) and a 41.4-ml decrease (95% CI: −0.7, 83.5) in FVC (p = 0.054). Women had lower risks than men of developing skin lesions and showed little evidence of respiratory effects. In this study, consumption of arsenic-contaminated water was associated with respiratory symptoms and reduced lung function in men, especially among those with arsenic-related skin lesions.

Keywords: arsenic; India; respiratory function tests; signs and symptoms, respiratory; water; water pollutants; CI, confidence interval; FEF25–75, forced expiratory flow between 25 and 75 percent of forced vital capacity; FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 second; FVC, forced vital capacity; OR, odds ratio; SMR, standardized mortality ratio

Journal Article.  5401 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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