Arsenic in the drinking water of the city of Antofagasta: epidemiological and clinical study before and after the installation of a treatment plant

Environ Health Perspect. 1977 Aug;19:103-5. doi: 10.1289/ehp.19-1637404.


This is a second report of epidemiological and clinical investigation, related to the arsenic health problem, unique in the world, occurring in the city of Antofagasta, Chile. The arsenic problem originates in the chronic contamination of water supply in the city during 12 years. This phenomena, investigated clinically and epidemiologically and first reported in 1971, prompted the installation of a water treatment plant. This report aims to evaluate the working efficiency of the plant. The study was carried out through the examination of arsenic content in hair and nail clipping samples of the inhabitants of Antofagasta and the determination of this element in cultivated vegetables and carbonated beverages. Also a clinical study in school children, looking for cutaneous lesions attributed to arsenicism, was made. Results are encouraging. They reveal that contamination persists but in significantly lower levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arsenic / analysis
  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chile
  • Female
  • Hair / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nails / analysis
  • Population Surveillance
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced
  • Skin Pigmentation
  • Water Pollution, Chemical*
  • Water Supply* / analysis


  • Arsenic