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Epidemiological and Spatial Association between Arsenic Exposure via Drinking Water and Morbidity and Mortality :Population based studies in rural Bangladesh

by Sohel, Nazmul, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
The overall aim of this thesis is to evaluate the risk for increased morbidity and mortality due to long-term arsenic exposure via drinking water by use of epidemiological and spatial approaches in studies performed in Matlab, Bangladesh. A total of 166,934 individuals aged 4 years and above were screened for skin lesions in 2002-2003. Another sample of 115,903 adults aged 15 years or more and a third sample of 26,972 pregnancies in 1991-2000 were considered in a historical cohort and an ecological study, respectively, where risk of adult mortality and spatial clusters of foetal loss and infant death were analysed in relation to arsenic exposure.More than 70% of the tube-wells in the study area exceeded the threshold for arsenic contamination according to the WHO guideline (10 µg/L). The prevalence of arsenic-induced skin lesions was 3/1000 and men had significantly higher prevalence of skin lesions (SMR 158, 95% CI: 133-188) compared to women. There was an increased risk for death in adulthood due to all non-accidental causes (hazards ratio = 1.16, [95% CI 1.06-1.26]) even at a low level of arsenic contamination (10-49 µg/L). Slightly lower risks were observed for death in cancers (1.44 [1.06-1.95]) and infectious diseases (1.30 [1.13-1.49]) at 50-149 µg/L, but for cardiovascular diseases, it was evident (1.23 [1.01-1.51]) from the level 150-299 µg/L. A dose-response relationship was observed for each of these causes.We identified high and low risk clusters of foetal loss and infant death that coincided with identified high and low clusters of arsenic exposure.Water arsenic concentration of the reported main water source was significantly correlated with arsenic concentration in urine, which reflects current arsenic intake from all sources (R2=0.41, ?< 0.0001), and the influence of neighbouring water sources was minimal.The study findings underlines that the ongoing arsenic exposure has resulted in a series of severe public health consequences in Bangladesh that call for reinforcement in the mitigation efforts. Knowledge about the spatial distribution of exposure and health effects may be of value in that process.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Uppsala universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Social medicine; Public health medicine research areas; Epidemiology; Arsenic; tube-well; skin lesion; adult mortality; foetal loss; infant death; cohort; spatial model; Bangladesh; International Health; Internationell hälsa

ISBN:978-91-554-7774-5

Date of Publication:01/01/2010

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