The correlation of arsenic levels in drinking water with the biological samples of skin disorders

Sci Total Environ. 2009 Jan 15;407(3):1019-26. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.10.013. Epub 2008 Nov 22.


Arsenic (As) poisoning has become a worldwide public health concern. The skin is quite sensitive to As and skin lesions are the most common and earliest nonmalignant effects associated to chronic As exposure. In 2005-2007, a survey was carried out on surface and groundwater arsenic contamination and relationships between As exposure via the drinking water and related adverse health effects (melanosis and keratosis) on villagers resides on the banks of Manchar lake, southern part of Sindh, Pakistan. We screened the population from arsenic-affected villages, 61 to 73% population were identified patients suffering from chronic arsenic toxicity. The effects of As toxicity via drinking water were estimated by biological samples (scalp hair and blood) of adults (males and females), have or have not skin problem (n=187). The referent samples of both genders were also collected from the areas having low level of As (<10 microg/L) in drinking water (n=121). Arsenic concentration in drinking water and biological samples were analyzed using electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry. The range of arsenic concentrations in lake surface water was 35.2-158 microg/L, which is 3-15 folds higher than World Health Organization [WHO, 2004. Guidelines for drinking-water quality third ed., WHO Geneva Switzerland.]. It was observed that As concentration in the scalp hair and blood samples were above the range of permissible values 0.034-0.319 microg As/g for hair and <0.5-4.2 microg/L for blood. The linear regressions showed good correlations between arsenic concentrations in water versus hair and blood samples of exposed skin diseased subjects (R2=0.852 and 0.718) as compared to non-diseased subjects (R2=0.573 and 0.351), respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Arsenic / blood
  • Arsenic / toxicity
  • Arsenic Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Arsenic Poisoning / pathology*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fresh Water
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pakistan
  • Public Health
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology
  • Skin Diseases / pathology*
  • Water Purification / methods
  • Water Supply / standards*


  • Arsenic