Socioeconomic status and risk for arsenic-related skin lesions in Bangladesh

Am J Public Health. 2007 May;97(5):825-31. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.078816. Epub 2007 Mar 29.


Objectives: Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a severe public health crisis in Bangladesh, where the population is exposed to arsenic in drinking water through tube wells used for groundwater collection. In this study, we explored the association between socioeconomic status and arsenic toxicity.

Methods: We used baseline data from 11438 men and women who were recruited into the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS), a prospective cohort study on the health effects of arsenic exposure in Bangladesh. We conducted analyses with logistic regression and generalized estimating equations.

Results: We found a strong dose-response association with all measures of arsenic exposure and skin lesions. We also found that the effect of arsenic was modified by land ownership on a multiplicative scale, with an increased risk among non-land owners associated with well water arsenic (P=.04) and urinary total arsenic concentrations (P=.03).

Conclusions: Our study provides insight into potentially modifiable host characteristics and identifies factors that may effectively target susceptible population subgroups for appropriate interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arsenic / adverse effects*
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ownership
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Skin Diseases / economics*
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology
  • Social Class*
  • Water Supply / economics*


  • Arsenic