Relationship between drinking Water and Toenail arsenic concentrations among a cohort of Nova Scotians

Authors: Zhijie M Yu, Trevor J.B. Dummer, Aimee Adams, John D Murimboh and Louise Parker

Journal: Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology | Volume: 24 | Pages: 135-44 |Date: 2014 |

Abstract: Consumption of arsenic-contaminated drinking water is associated with increased cancer risk. The relationship between arsenic body burden, such as concentrations in human toenails, and arsenic in drinking water is not fully understood. We evaluated the relationship between arsenic concentrations in drinking water and toenail clippings among a cohort of Nova Scotians. A total of 960 men and women aged 35 to 69 years provided home drinking water and toenail clipping samples. Information on water source and treatment use and covariables was collected through questionnaires. Arsenic concentrations in drinking water and toenail clippings and anthropometric indices were measured. Private drilled water wells had higher arsenic concentrations compared with other dug wells and municipal drinking water sources (P<0.001). Among participants with drinking water arsenic levels ≥1 μg/l, there was a significant relationship between drinking water and toenail arsenic concentrations (r=0.46, P<0.0001). Given similar levels of arsenic exposure from drinking water, obese individuals had significantly lower concentrations of arsenic in toenails compared with those with a normal weight. Private drilled water wells were an important source of arsenic exposure in the study population. Body weight modifies the relationship between drinking water arsenic exposure and toenail arsenic concentrations.