Sister-chromatid exchange (SCE) among individuals chronically exposed to arsenic in drinking water

Mutat Res. 1994 Apr;312(2):111-20. doi: 10.1016/0165-1161(94)90015-9.


A study was carried out on human subjects of various ages and backgrounds who had been drinking water containing more than 0.13 mg/l (0.13 ppm) arsenic for a period of at least 20 years. The main aim was not only to correlate the frequency of sister-chromatid exchanges in the lymphocytes with the amount of arsenic in water and urine but also to correlate the frequency of SCE with sex and age. In addition, family background regarding skin alterations or other arsenic-related symptoms was explored, so that individual health conditions could be assessed. External factors such as exposure to other chemical or contaminating agents (pesticides, battery manufacturing plants, foundries) were also taken into consideration. The data on sister-chromatid exchanges (282 exposed and 155 control individuals) showed that arsenic at concentrations used by our population (0.13 mg/l) induced a significantly elevated response. Other health effects of arsenic at these concentrations were found, e.g., hyperkeratosis, melanosis, actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Argentina
  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange*
  • Water Pollution, Chemical / adverse effects*
  • Water Supply*


  • Mutagens
  • Arsenic