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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

NAVONI, Julio A.; DE PIETRI, Diana; GARCIA, Susana  and  VILLAAMIL LEPORI, Edda C.. Health risk for the vulnerable population exposed to arsenic in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2012, vol.31, n.1, pp. 1-8. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892012000100001.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the concentration of arsenic in water collected in localities of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the epidemiological relationship of that concentration to factors of susceptibility and associated pathologies. METHODS: In 152 samples from 52 localities of Buenos Aires from 2003-2008, the concentration of arsenic was quantified through the generation of hydride spectrophotometry of atomic absorption. A composite index of health (CIH) was constructed using the content of arsenic and the percentages of households with unmet basic needs and dwellings without access to the potable water. Through the CIH, risk areas associated with mortality from malignant neoplasms related to arsenic were defined. RESULTS: Concentrations of arsenic spanned a broad range from 0.3 to 187 mg/L, with a median of 40 mg/L. Of the samples, 82% presented levels of arsenic higher than the acceptable limit of 10 mg/L, and more than half of those came from households with potable water connections. In the departments studied, the average mortality (deaths/100 000 inhabitants) from tumors was greater in men than in women: respiratory tract (310 versus 76), urinary tract (44 versus 11), and skin (21 versus 11), respectively. The regions with greater concentrations of arsenic and of poverty, together with the lack of potable water connections, had a two-to-four times greater risk. CONCLUSIONS: The findings from the composite index of health summarized the health risk from exposure to arsenic for lower socioeconomic levels of the population for a broad area of the province of Buenos Aires.

Keywords : Arsenic; arsenic poisoning; risk assessment; water contamination control; poverty areas; Argentina.

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