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Association Between Arsenic Exposure and a Measure of Subclinical Sensory Neuropathy in Bangladesh

Hafeman, Danella M. ScB; Ahsan, Habibul MD, MMedSci; Louis, Elan D. MD, MS; Siddique, Abu B. MBBS; Slavkovich, Vesna MS; Cheng, Zhongqi PhD; van Geen, Alexander PhD; Graziano, Joseph H. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 8 - p 778-784
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000169089.54549.db
Original Articles
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CME

Objectives: We examined the association between arsenic exposure and peripheral neuropathy in Bangladesh, where the population has been chronically exposed to arsenic in drinking water.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 137 subjects derived from a larger cohort. Exposure measures included individual water arsenic concentration, cumulative arsenic index, and urinary arsenic concentration taken at two time points (2001 and 2003). The primary outcome measurement was elevated vibrotactile threshold, as measured by a vibration sensitivity tester (Vibratron II).

Results: Arsenic exposure was associated with elevated toe vibration threshold (TVT). Specifically, cumulative arsenic index and urinary arsenic (2001) were both significantly associated with elevated TVT (P = 0.02 and P = 0.009, respectively) after adjustment for age and gender.

Conclusions: Increased arsenic exposure, as measured by both cumulative and urinary measures, was associated with evidence of subclinical sensory neuropathy.

From the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York (Ms Hafeman, Dr Ahsan, Ms Slavkovich, Dr Graziano); Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York (Dr Louis); Columbia University Arsenic Project, Araihazar, Bangladesh (Mr Siddique); and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, New York (Dr Cheng, Dr van Geen).

Supported by U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grants # P42 ES10349 and # P30 ES09089.

Address correspondence to Joseph H. Graziano, Mailman School of Public Health, 60 Haven Ave B-1, New York, NY 10032; E-mail: jg24@columbia.edu.

Copyright © 2005 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine