Arsenic Exposure and Its Impact on Health in Chile|
Ferreccio, Catterina & Sancha, Ana María
The problem of arsenic in Chile was reviewed. In Chile, the population is exposed to arsenic naturally via drinking-water and by air pollution resulted from mining activities. The sources of arsenic were iden-tified to estimate the exposure of population to arsenic through air, water, and food. Health effects, particularly early effects, observed in children and adults, such as vascular diseases (premature cardiac infarct), respiratory illnesses (bronchiectasis), and skin lesions have been described. Chronic effects, such as lung and bladder cancers, were reported 20 years after peak exposure and persisted 27 years after mitigation measures for removing arsenic from drinking surface water were initiated. Although the effects of arsenic are similar in different ethnic and cultural groups (e.g. Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Bangladeshi, American, and Taiwanese), variations could be explained by age at exposure, the dose received, smoking, and nutrition. Since health effects were observed at arsenic levels of 50 μg/L in drinking-water, it is advised that Chile follows the World Health Organization's recommendation of 10 μg/L. The Chilean experience in removal of arsenic suggests that it is feasible to reach this level using the conventional coagulation process.
Arsenic; Arsenic exposure; Health effects; Impact studies; Chile