Saturday, December 18, 2010

High post mining arsenic mobilization after more than 200 years in the oldest Brazilian Gold mining province

Arsenic and trace metals in river water and sediments from the southeast portion of the Iron Quadrangle, Brazil.

Environ Monit Assess. 2011 Jan;172(1-4):631-42. Epub 2010 Mar 18.
Varejão EV, Bellato CR, Fontes MP, Mello JW.
Departamento de Química, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Av. P.H. Rolfs, s/n, 36571-000, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The Iron Quadrangle has been one of the most important gold production regions in Brazil since the end of the seventeenth century. There, arsenic occurs in close association with sulfide-rich auriferous rocks. The most abundant sulfide minerals are pyrite and arsenopyrite, yet trace metal sulfides occur in subordinate phases as well. Historical mining activities have been responsible for the release of As and trace metals to both aquatic and terrestrial environments close to mining sites in the region. Therefore, this study was aimed to evaluate the distribution and mobility of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn in streams in the southeast portion of the Iron Quadrangle between the municipalities of Ouro Preto and Mariana, the oldest Brazilian Au mining province. Total concentrations of some trace metals and arsenic in water were determined. The four-stage sequential extraction procedure proposed by the commission of the European Communities Bureau of Reference (BCR) was used to investigate the distribution of these elements in stream sediments. Arsenic concentration in water was > 10 μg L⁻¹ (maximum limit permitted by Brazilian environmental regulations for water destined for human consumption) at all sampling sites, varying between 36.7 and 68.3 μg L⁻¹. Sequential extraction in sediments showed high concentrations of As and trace metals associated with easily mobilized fractions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Asbestos scandal

Irresponsible policies could cause an epidemic of malignant lung disease.

"Governments must ban the extraction, processing and use of materials that can cause serious disease".

Nature Editorial

Nature 468: 868 (16 December 2010) doi:10.1038/468868a
Published online 15 December 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Increased lung cancer risks are similar whether arsenic is ingested or inhaled.

Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 2009, 19: 343–348 
Smith AH, Ercumen A, Yuan Y, Steinmaus CM. 
Arsenic Health Effects Research Program,School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency, Oakland, California, USA. 
Abstract - In 1980, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined there was sufficient evidence to support that inorganic arsenic was a human lung carcinogen based on studies involving exposure through inhalation. In 2004, IARC listed arsenic in drinking water as a cause of lung cancer, making arsenic the first substance established to cause human cancer through two unrelated pathways of exposure. It may initially seem counterintuitive that arsenic in drinking water would cause human lung cancer, and even if it did, one might expect risks to be orders of magnitude lower than those from direct inhalation into the lungs. In this paper, we consider lung cancer dose–response relationships for inhalation and ingestion of arsenic by focusing on two key studies, a cohort mortality study in the United States involving Tacoma smelter workers inhaling arsenic, and a lung cancer case–control study involving ingestion of arsenic in drinking water in northern Chile. When exposure was assessed based on the absorbed dose identified by concentrations of arsenic in urine, there was very little difference in the dose–response findings for lung cancer relative risks between inhalation and ingestion. The lung cancer mortality rate ratio estimate was 8.0 (95% CI 3.2–16.5, P < 0.001) for an average urine concentration of 1179 microg/l after inhalation, and the odds ratio estimate of the lung cancer incidence rate ratio was 7.1 (95% CI 3.4–14.8, P < 0.001) for an estimated average urine concentration of 825 microg/l following ingestion. The slopes of the linear dose-response relationships between excess relative risk (RR-1) for lung cancer and urinary arsenic concentration were similar for the two routes of exposure. We conclude that lung cancer risks probably depend on absorbed dose, and not on whether inorganic arsenic is ingested or inhaled.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Letter to Professor Alastair Summerlee

Letter to Professor Alastair Summerlee, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
November 21, 2010
Professor Alastair Summerlee
President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guelph
Mr. President,
Having read the announcement that the University of Guelph accepted a $1-million gift from Kinross Gold Corporation [1], I feel obliged to inform you that this gift has been made possible thanks to questionable Kinross’ mining activities, especially at my home town Paracatu, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Friday, November 19, 2010

MIMER notes November 19, 2010: Arsenic in urine

Urinary arsenic determined in a large US survey

Urinary concentrations of different forms of arsenic have been determined for the United States populations from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES). The results have been published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the CDC Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals ("the fourth report", published 2010). For the first time, the fourth report provides comprehensive information about arsenic presence. Urinary total arsenic varied from 5.66 mcg/l (equivalent to 6.58 mcg/g of creatinine) in children to 164 mcg/l (98.8 mcg/g of creatinine) in adults. Some children presented with total urinary arsenic concentration of 178 mcg/l (188 mcg/g creatinine). Arsenic has been associated with all top 10 causes of death worldwide, including cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, dementias and cancer. The ranges for arsenic are provided so the clinician can compare a patient's readings against national percentiles. The data will help the clinician identify current exposures and monitor the effectiveness of treatments.
Source: [accessed 19 November 19, 2010]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spontaneous pregnancy loss in humans and exposure to arsenic

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2010 Oct 1. [Epub ahead of print]
Spontaneous pregnancy loss in humans and exposure to arsenic in drinking water.
Bloom MS, Fitzgerald EF, Kim K, Neamtiu I, Gurzau ES.
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, State University of New York, Rensselaer, NY, United States; Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University at Albany, State University of New York, Rensselaer, NY, United States.

Maternal exposure to high concentrations of inorganic arsenic (iAs) in naturally contaminated drinking groundwater sources has been associated with an increased risk for the spontaneous loss of clinically recognized pregnancies in several epidemiologic studies. Whereas a large worldwide population depends on drinking groundwater sources with high levels of iAs contamination, in quantities exceeding 10 parts per billion (ppb), an even larger population is likely to be exposed to mild-moderate drinking groundwater iAs contamination, in quantities <10ppb. Only a single epidemiologic study to date has considered spontaneous pregnancy loss in association with consumption of drinking water with mild-moderate iAs contamination; the vast majority of published studies of spontaneous loss addressed populations with substantial exposure. The aim of this review is to evaluate the published literature to assess the plausibility for a causal association between exposure to iAs-contaminated drinking water and the spontaneous loss of clinically recognized pregnancy. In spite of numerous methodologic limitations resulting from circumstance or design, a consistent pattern of increased risk for loss is suggested by the epidemiologic literature. Moreover, these study results are corroborated by a large number of experimental studies, albeit usually conducted at concentrations exceeding that to which humans are exposed via contaminated drinking water. In this review, we discuss sources of human iAs exposure, highlight several experimental studies pertinent to a possible causal link between iAs and spontaneous pregnancy loss in humans, and provide a critical review of published epidemiologic studies of pregnancy loss and drinking water iAs exposures, and their limitations. Based on a review of the published literature, we recommend the future conduct of a two-stage comprehensive prospective study of low-moderate iAs drinking water exposure and spontaneous pregnancy loss.

Behaviour of arsenic in forested catchments

Environ Pollut. 2010 Oct 5. [Epub ahead of print]
Behaviour of arsenic in forested catchments following a high-pollution period.
Novak M, Erbanova L, Fottova D, Cudlin P, Kubena A.
Department of Geochemistry, Czech Geological Survey, Geologicka 6, 152 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic.

Due to high availability of adsorption sites, forested catchments could be net sinks for pollutant arsenic both during the period of increasing and decreasing pollution. We tested this hypothesis along a north-south pollution gradient in spruce die-back affected areas of Central Europe. For two water years (2007-2008), we monitored As fluxes via spruce-canopy throughfall, open-area precipitation, and runoff in four headwater catchments (Czech Republic). Since 1980, atmospheric As inputs decreased 26 times in the north, and 13 times in the south. Arsenic export by runoff was similar to atmospheric inputs at three sites, resulting in a near-zero As mass balance. One site exhibited a net export of As (2.2 g ha(-1) yr(-1)). In contrast, the preceding period (1995-2006) showed much higher As fluxes, and higher As export. Czech catchments do not serve as net sinks of atmospheric As. A considerable proportion of old industrial arsenic is flushed out of the soil.

Chronic arsenicosis in cattle in West Bengal, India

Sci Total Environ. 2010 Nov 6. [Epub ahead of print]
Datta BK, Mishra A, Singh A, Sar TK, Sarkar S, Bhatacharya A, Chakraborty AK, Mandal TK.
Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, 37, K.B. Sarani, Kolkata 700037, West Bengal, India.

Thirty Milch cattle were selected randomly from a village of Nadia district of West Bengal, India containing high arsenic in water and soil samples. Milk, feces and hair samples were collected to analyze arsenic status in animals. Water and straw samples were also estimated for arsenic. Milk products prepared from milk of cattle rearing in arsenic prone village were also collected to quantify total arsenic and speciation of arsenic in milk and feces samples were also carried out. It was observed that high amount of arsenic was present in milk, feces, hair of cattle and water and straw samples in arsenic prone village. Milk product also contained significant amount of arsenic than that of milk product of control village. Speciation study revealed arsenite fraction was mainly eliminated through milk, whereas organoarsenic species were mainly excreted through feces.

Migration of arsenic in groundwater from West Bengal

Water Res. 2010 Jul;44(14):4171-85. Epub 2010 May 21.
Migration of As, and (3)H/(3)He ages, in groundwater from West Bengal: Implications for monitoring.
McArthur JM, Banerjee DM, Sengupta S, Ravenscroft P, Klump S, Sarkar A, Disch B, Kipfer R.
Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.

From 2002 to 2010 inclusive we monitored concentrations of arsenic (As) and major ions (Ca, Mg, Sr, Na, K, Fe, Mn, Cl, and SO(4)) in groundwater from 14 domestic wells and three piezometer nests in a shallow aquifer (<60 m depth), and 3 wells in a deep aquifer (>70 m depth), in southern West Bengal, India. In the deep aquifer, concentrations of As did not change over time despite increases in the concentration of Fe in two wells. The shallow aquifer occurs in two sedimentological settings: palaeo-channel and palaeo-interfluve. At the top of the shallow aquifer of the palaeo-channel, decreases in all constituent concentrations with time, and an (3)H/(3)He age of 1.4 years, proves that the aquifer is beginning to be flushed of pollutants. In As-polluted groundwater (>50 microg/L As) tapped from deeper grey sands of the shallow, palaeo-channel, aquifer, concentrations of As were mostly stable over time, but both increases and decreases occurred with time in response to downward migration of the chemically-stratified water column. In groundwater tapped from Pleistocene brown sands, the concentration of As remained either low and stable (<2 microg/L As), or increased at rates up to 34 microg/L per year. The increases were caused by the flow of As-rich groundwater either downward into brown sand at the base of palaeo-channels, or laterally into a confined, unpolluted, palaeo-interfluvial, aquifer of brown sand that lies regionally beneath a palaeosol. Under the present pumping regime, the prognosis for As-pollution in the shallow aquifer is complex. Wells in brown sand may become polluted over timescales of as little as 2 years, whilst some wells tapping As-polluted groundwater from grey sand will become fit for potable use (<50 microg/L) within a few decades. The evidence of flushing, and of declining As in some of the groundwater from palaeo-channels, which are conduits for recharge of the confined, As-free, palaeo-interfluve aquifer, and probably also the deeper aquifer, offers hopes that the spread of As-pollution will be limited.

Arsenic round the world: a review.

Arsenic round the world: a review.
Talanta. 2002 Aug 16;58(1):201-35.
Mandal BK, Suzuki KT.
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba 263-8522, Japan.

This review deals with environmental origin, occurrence, episodes, and impact on human health of arsenic. Arsenic, a metalloid occurs naturally, being the 20th most abundant element in the earth's crust, and is a component of more than 245 minerals. These are mostly ores containing sulfide, along with copper, nickel, lead, cobalt, or other metals. Arsenic and its compounds are mobile in the environment. Weathering of rocks converts arsenic sulfides to arsenic trioxide, which enters the arsenic cycle as dust or by dissolution in rain, rivers, or groundwater. So, groundwater contamination by arsenic is a serious threat to mankind all over the world. It can also enter food chain causing wide spread distribution throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. However, fish, fruits, and vegetables primarily contain organic arsenic, less than 10% of the arsenic in these foods exists in the inorganic form, although the arsenic content of many foods (i.e. milk and dairy products, beef and pork, poultry, and cereals) is mainly inorganic, typically 65-75%. A few recent studies report 85-95% inorganic arsenic in rice and vegetables, which suggest more studies for standardisation. Humans are exposed to this toxic arsenic primarily from air, food, and water. Thousands and thousands of people are suffering from the toxic effects of arsenicals in many countries all over the world due to natural groundwater contamination as well as industrial effluent and drainage problems. Arsenic, being a normal component of human body is transported by the blood to different organs in the body, mainly in the form of MMA after ingestion. It causes a variety of adverse health effects to humans after acute and chronic exposures such as dermal changes (pigmentation, hyperkeratoses, and ulceration), respiratory, pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, neurological, developmental, reproductive, immunologic, genotoxic, mutagenetic, and carcinogenic effects. Key research studies are needed for improving arsenic risk assessment at low exposure levels urgently among all the arsenic research groups.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Does remediation save lives?

Does remediation save lives? - on the cost of cleaning up arsenic-contaminated sites in Sweden.

Forslund J, Samakovlis E, Johansson MV, Barregard L.

Environmental Economics, National Institute of Economic Research, Stockholm, Sweden.

Sci Total Environ. 2010 Jul 15;408(16):3085-91. Epub 2010 May 1.


Sweden has only just begun remediation of its many contaminated sites, a process that will cost an estimated SEK 60,000 million (USD 9100 million). Although the risk assessment method, carried out by the Swedish EPA, is driven by health effects, it does not consider actual exposure. Instead, the sites are assessed based on divergence from guideline values. This paper uses an environmental medicine approach that takes exposure into account to analyse how cancer risks on and near arsenic-contaminated sites are implicitly valued in the remediation process. The results show that the level of ambition is high. At 23 contaminated sites, the cost per life saved varies from SEK 287 million to SEK 1,835,000 million, despite conservative calculations that in fact probably underestimate the costs. It is concluded that if environmental health risks are to be reduced, there are probably other areas where economic resources can be used more cost-effectively.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gold mining largest source of anthropogenic arsenic

Gold mining is by far the largest single source of anthropogenic arsenic

By S. U. Dani, August 24, 2010

Table 1 shows that gold mining is by far the largest single source of world anthropogenic arsenic. If all estimated gold reserves are exploited, then gold mining will release estimated 104 million tonnes of arsenic in the environment. This is more than 20 times as much arsenic as has been released from all anthropogenic sources in the industrial age so far.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Subchronic arsenic toxicity in rats

Environ Toxicol. 2010 Aug 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Pathological, immunological and biochemical markers of subchronic arsenic toxicity in rats

Nain S, Smits JE.

Ecosystem & Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4Z6.


Subchronic exposure to arsenic in rats was investigated to identify sensitive indicators of subclinical toxicity in rats. Immunological, pathological, and biochemical bioindicators were examined in rats exposed to arsenic in their drinking water. Juvenile male Wistar rats were allocated to four treatment groups receiving 0, 0.4, 4, and 40 ppm of arsenite in drinking water for 18 wks. Besides daily monitoring for clinical signs of adverse health effects, clinical biochemistry, B-cell-mediated and innate immune responses, plus gross, and histopathology were examined. In vitro tests of oxidative damage to basic cellular constituents, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids, were measured using thiobarbituric acid reacting substances (TBARS) assays, protein carbonyl formation, and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), respectively. Clinical changes in the rats were limited to decreased feed and water intake in the high- (40 ppm) dose group (P < 0.05), however, growth rate was not affected. Serum biochemical changes occurred in blood urea nitrogen, K(+), Cl(-), and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) from arsenic exposure. Immunotoxicity was evident through a dose-dependent suppression of the secondary antibody-mediated response to a T-cell-dependent antigen, keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). Histopathology of the liver revealed marked fatty infiltration and vacuolization particularly evident in periacinar hepatocytes. This pattern of toxicopathology in the high-exposure group may be related to the significantly higher (P < 0.05) oxidative stress, demonstrated through lipid peroxidation (TBARS assay) in the rats exposed to 40 ppm arsenite. The present study revealed that young, growing rats exposed to arsenic for 18 wks tolerated exposures up to 4 ppm. At higher doses, there was evidence of hepatotoxicity, humoral immunity was compromised, and an adverse effect on hepatic organelle and cell membranes was evident through a dose dependent increased in oxidative stress. (c) 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol, 2010.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oil spills raise arsenic levels in the ocean

Imperial College London News Release
For Immediate Release:
Friday 2 July 2010

Oil spills raise arsenic levels in the ocean, says new research

Oil spills can increase levels of toxic arsenic in the ocean, creating an additional long-term threat to the marine ecosystem - News Release

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Opencast coal mines in England

BBC News
15 August 2010 Last updated at 06:30 GMT

More opencast mine bids 'likely on greenfield sites'

Applications for opencast mining on greenfield sites are likely to increase to meet the UK's demand for energy, the British Geological Survey has said.

Mountain mining damages streams

Published online 9 August 2010 | Nature 466, 806 (2010) | doi:10.1038/466806a

Mountain mining damages streams

Study shows that stripping mountains for coal has a much greater impact than urban growth.

Natasha Gilbert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

West Virginia’s mountains contain valuable low-sulphur coal. Photograph: P. Souza/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Newscom

The controversial practice of stripping off the tops of mountains to mine coal, long suspected of polluting streams, is guilty as charged, scientists say.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

General ban on the use of cyanide in Europe: resolution 2010-0145

European Parliament resolution of 5 May 2010 on a general ban on the use of cyanide mining technologies in the European Union

Arsenic in contaminated milk

Long-term consequences of arsenic poisoning during infancy due to contaminated milk powder

Dakeishi M, Murata K, Grandjean P. 2006. Long-term consequences of arsenic poisoning during infancy due to contaminated milk powder. Environ. Health 5:31

Email Dr. Dakeishi at

Arsenic toxicity is a global health problem affecting many millions of people. The main source of exposure is drinking water contaminated by natural geological sources. Current risk assessment is based on the recognized carcinogenicity of arsenic, but neurotoxic risks have been overlooked. In 1955, an outbreak of arsenic poisoning occurred among Japanese infants, with more than 100 deaths. The source was contaminated milk powder produced by the Morinaga company. Detailed accounts of the Morinaga dried milk poisoning were published in Japanese only, and an overview of this poisoning incident and its long-term consequences is therefore presented. From analyses available, the arsenic concentration in milk made from the Morinaga milk powder is calculated to be about 4-7 mg/L, corresponding to daily doses slightly above 500 microg/kg body weight. Lower exposures would result from using diluted milk. Clinical poisoning cases occurred after a few weeks of exposure, with a total dose of about 60 mg. This experience provides clear-cut evidence for hazard assessment of the developmental neurotoxicity. At the present time, more than 600 surviving victims, now in their 50s, have been reported to suffer from severe sequelae, such as mental retardation, neurological diseases, and other disabilities. Along with more recent epidemiological studies of children with environmental arsenic exposures, the data amply demonstrate the need to consider neurotoxicity as a key concern in risk assessment of inorganic arsenic exposure.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Difficult to clean up

Several Sierra trails are toxic, group says

June 23, 2010|By Kelly Zito, Chronicle Staff Writer

A mountain biker cruises from the Sierra Buttes to Downieville, a hub for bikers. Although the Sierra Fund points to problems in Downieville, the Mountain Bike and Big Boulder trails were fine. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times 2007.

The thousands of mine shafts that pockmark the Sierra Nevada and testify to California's Gold Rush riches have also left a legacy of toxic contamination in some of the state's popular recreation areas, according to a new study.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Worldwide Campaign

Stop an invisible mass killing

The worldwide campaign

Millions of people worldwide are becoming ill or dying every day, without it being known that the cause of this mass killing is chronic arsenic poisoning.

Arsenic occurs naturally all over the world, but some human activities such as hard rock mining for gold, as well as burning coal and oil and using contaminated groundwater for drinking and irrigation have largely surpassed the natural sources of arsenic, with modern gold mining being by far the most important man-made source of arsenic [1].

In addition, arsenic is still used as an ingredient in various industries, in the production of feed additives, drugs, pesticides, wood preservatives and glass, among others.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Atmospheric stability of arsines and the determination of their oxidative products in atmospheric aerosols (PM10): evidence of the widespread phenomena of biovolatilization of arsenic.

J Environ Monit, 2010, 12(2):409-16.
Jakob R, Roth A, Hass K, Krupp EM, Raab A, Smichowski P, Gómez D, Feldmann J.
Trace Element Speciation Laboratory Aberdeen, Department of Chemistry, University of Aberdeen, Meston Building, Meston Walk, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.
Abstract - Biovolatilisation of arsenic as their arsines in the form of AsH(3), and mono-, di and trimethylarsine has often been determined under laboratory conditions. Although environmental point sources such as landfill sites or hot springs have been characterised, only limited knowledge is available on how widespread the formation of volatile methylated arsenic compounds are in the environment. Here we studied the atmospheric stability of the different arsines and quantified their oxidation products in atmospheric particulate matter (PM(10)) in two locations in Argentina. The atmospheric half-life of the arsines range from 19 weeks for AsH(3) to 2 d for trimethylarsine (TMAs) at 20 degrees C in the dark, while during simulated daytime conditions the stability is reduced for all arsines and in particular for the methylated arsines by three orders of magnitude which suggests that TMAs can only be dispersed at night. At both locations the arsenic concentration was in all samples below 1 ng As m(-3), which is considered as rural background for arsenic. The oxidation products, i.e. methylarsonate (MA), dimethylarsinate (DMA) and trimethylarsine oxide (TMAO) were identified by using HPLC-ICP-MS/ES-MS in more than 90% of the 49 PM(10) samples taken from 8 sampling points at the two geographically different locations. TMAO was the predominate organoarsenicals in both locations (66 and 69%, respectively) while DMA was determined to be between 13 and 19% of all organoarsenicals at the two locations. The concentration of the organoarsenicals ranged from 4 to 60 pg As as TMAO m(-3), while the maximum concentration for DMA and MA were 16 and 6 pg As m(-3), respectively. No difference in terms of the concentration or distribution of the organoarsenicals in the PM(10) samples was identified as significant. Since the two locations were different in climate and industrial impact and sampled in different seasons, these data suggest that methylated arsenicals do occur as background chemicals in the environment. Due to the low atmospheric stability of the methylated arsines, it is suggested that biovolatilization of arsenic as methylated arsines is a widespread phenomenon. More studies however are necessary to identify the major sources and determine the flux of the volatilization process in order to determine whether or not the process has environmental significance.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One in five deaths linked to arsenic in water

New study links 1 in 5 deaths in Bangladesh to arsenic in the drinking water

Increased mortality is linked to chronic diseases with a 70 percent increased mortality risk among those with the highest level of exposure

Source: EurekAlert (*)

June 23, 2010 – Between 33 and 77 million people in Bangladesh have been exposed to arsenic in the drinking water—a catastrophe that the World Health Organization has called "the largest mass poisoning in history." A new study published in the current issue of the medical journal The Lancet provides the most complete and detailed picture to date of the high mortality rates associated with this exposure, which began with the widespread installation of tube wells throughout the country 30 years ago—a measure intended to control water-bourne diseases.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The arsenic exposure hypothesis for Alzheimer disease

Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 2010 May 13 [Epub ahead of print].
Gong G, O'Bryant SE 
F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health Department of Neurology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX.
Abstract - Prior research has shown that arsenic exposure induces changes that coincide with most of the developmental, biochemical, pathologic, and clinical features of Alzheimer disease (AD) and associated disorders. On the basis of this literature, we propose the Arsenic Exposure Hypothesis for AD that is inclusive of and cooperative with the existing hypotheses. Arsenic toxicity induces hyperphosphorylation of protein tau and overtranscription of the amyloid precursor protein, which are involved in the formation of neurofibrillary tangles and brain amyloid plaques, consistent with the amyloid hypothesis of AD. Arsenic exposure has been associated with cardiovascular diseases and associated risk factors, which is in agreement with the vascular hypothesis of AD. Arsenic exposure invokes brain inflammatory responses, which resonates with the inflammatory hypotheses of AD. Arsenic exposure has been linked to reduced memory and intellectual abilities in children and adolescents, which provides a biologic basis for the developmental origin of health and disease hypothesis for AD. Arsenic and its metabolites generate free radicals causing oxidative stress and neuronal death, which fits the existing oxidative stress hypothesis. Taken together, the arsenic exposure hypothesis for AD provides a parsimonious testable hypothesis for the development and progression of this devastating disease at least for some subsets of individuals.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thrifty gene

Thrifty gene provides for survival

Source: Excegen Genetica SA, June 2010

Under dietary restriction, bovines carrying a wild type of the growth hormone gene (GH) are able to sustain body growth, whereas bovines carrying the domestic form of the gene stop growing, according to a study published in the journal Genetics and Molecular Research (GMR).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

MIMER Notes, June 6, 2010: Global map of arsenic in groundwater

Modeled global probability of geogenic arsenic contamination in groundwater for (a) reducing groundwater conditions, and (b) high-pH/oxidizing conditions where arsenic is soluble in its oxidized state. (FIGURE 2 from Amini et al., 2008). Copyright American Chemical Society. Material published under license agreement.

Ref.: Amini M., K.C. Abbaspour, M. Berg, L. Winkel, S. J. Hug, E. Hoehn, H. Yang, C.A Johnson (2008) Preliminary Statistical Modeling of Global Geogenic Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater. Environmental Science & Technology 42:3669-3675.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Arsenic toenails

Arsenic Toenails

By Catalyst, ABC Television, Australia, March 11, 2010
Watch the video at:

Is the glittering prosperity from Australia's gold mining being tarnished by the environmental impact of extraction techniques? Dr Paul Willis meets up with researchers from the University of Ballarat who are collecting children's toenails to find out how much arsenic they contain.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kinross Gold Corporation meets Ali Baba on the Hill of the Souls

Kinross Gold Corporation meets Ali Baba on the Hill of the Souls

By Cylene Gama, from Paracatu-MG, Brazil, April 11, 2010

In the tale of ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ the treasure is in a cave, the mouth of which is sealed by magic. It opens on the words ‘Open Sesame’, and seals itself on the words ‘Close Sesame’.

Canadian Kinross Gold Corporation is longing to put its craws on a treasure hidden in the Hill of the Souls at Paracatu, northwestern Minas Gerais State, Brazil. However, the Hill is sealed by a malediction long known by the Bacuen Indians, also known as the ‘Tapuias’. The Hill of the Souls was sacred for the Bacuen who believed that disturbing the hill would cause it to release evil souls.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Drinking-water-for-poison swap

Nothing in the drinking-water-for-poison swap in Paracatu makes sense except down the corruption pipeline

By Sergio U. Dani, from Göttingen, April 4, 2010

The Santa Isabel river is drying up. It has lost 3 billion liters of water in the last 18 years. Since 1996 this river has been the main source of drinking water for the 84 thousand inhabitants of Paracatu, a city located in the northwestern part of the Minas Gerais State, Brazil.

Until 1996, water supply to this 300 year old city relied upon the Rico Creek and water springs and wells located within the city and in the neighbour Santa Rita river basin. Beginning in 1987, an open pit gold mine has destroyed the waterheads of Rico Creek, and has contributed to the depletion or contamination the city’s wells.

Now the Santa Rita waterheads, which are considered the earliest and most valuable source of drinking water out of the urban environment of Paracatu – the water used to be delivered to the city by gravity through the famous “Master of Field Trench” – are at risk of being transformed into a deposit of over one billion tons of toxic mine tailings.

The tailings will contain one million tons of arsenic which is enough poison to kill billions of people. Besides directly destroying the sources of drinking water, mining activities are contaminating groundwater with poison and acid drainage.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Something in the water

Interview: Something in the water
From Metallomics, 24 February 2010

Bibudhendra Sarkar talks to May Copsey about metalloenzymes, helping sick children and hunting for toxic metals in the environment Bibudhendra Sarkar is an Emeritus Professor at The University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada. His major research interests are in the area of metal-related genetic diseases with a special emphasis on Wilson and Menkes diseases and studying the effects of toxic metals in the environment and their impact on human health. He is also a member of the Metallomics editorial board.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

MIMER Notes, February 14, 2010

Arsenic on the rise. Scientific publications on arsenic are on the rise. A survey on publications indexed in PubMed in the period 1990-2009 shows that the number of annual publications on arsenic have increased at a higher rate relatively to publications on mercury, cadmium and lead, which are considered the most important metal pollutants (Figure).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Evidence that low level arsenic causes Alzheimer disease and other dementias

MIMER notes, February 6th, 2010
Arsenic for the fool

Anthropogenic arsenic is insidiously building up together with natural arsenic to a level unprecedented in the history of mankind. Arsenopyrite (FeAsS) is the principal ore of arsenic and gold in hard rock mines; it is formed by a coupled substitution of sulphur by arsenic in the structure of pyrite (FeS(2)) - nicknamed "fool's gold". Other important sources of anthropogenic arsenic are fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

In a paper accepted for publication in the journal Science of the Total Environment, researcher Sergio Dani of Brazil's Medawar Institute for Medical and Environmental Research found that arsenic in topsoil is exponentially related to dementias in European countries.

Dani found an association of total arsenic concentrations in topsoils – as determined by ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) data made available from the FOREGS Project led by Salminen and colleagues in 2005 – with the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in Europe as reported by the Delphi consensus study led by Ferri and colleagues in 2005, and mortality data as reported by WHO for the year 2009.

This is the first indication that the environmental concentration of total arsenic in topsoils - in the 7-18 ppm range - is exponentially related to the prevalence and mortality of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. This evidence defies the imputed absence of verified cases of human morbidity or mortality resulting from exposure to low-level arsenic in topsoils.


Dani SU. Arsenic for the fool: An exponential connection. Science of the Total Environment (2010), doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.01.027

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hopi and Navajo Residents Stop Peabody's Coal Mine Expansion on Black Mesa

From: Center for Biological Diversity
Published January 11, 2010 10:54 AM
Hopi and Navajo Residents Stop Peabody's Coal Mine Expansion on Black Mesa

BLACK MESA, Arizona, USA- Peabody Western Coal Company's Black Mesa Coal Complex has suffered a major setback as an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of the Interior vacated a permit for the massive coal-mining complex. The judge vacated the permit in response to one of several appeals filed by Navajo and Hopi residents as well as a diverse coalition of tribal and environmental groups. The permit, issued by Interior's Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, allowed Peabody to operate and expand the Black Mesa and Kayenta mines under a single permit.