Significance of urinary arsenic speciation in assessment of seafood ingestion as the main source of organic and inorganic arsenic in a population resident near a coastal area
In order to characterize the different sources of exposure to arsenic (As), urinary excretion of total As, the sum of inorganic As+MMA+DMA determined by the hydride generation-atomic absorption spectrophotometry technique, and the species As^3, As^5, monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) and arsenobetaine were determined in 49 workers at a steel foundry, with presumed occupational exposure to As, and 50 subjects from the general population, all males. No evidence of occupational exposure to As resulted from environmental monitoring performed in the foundry, although the analysis of minerals used as raw materials showed the presence of As, particularly in fossils and fine ores. The urinary concentrations of As^3, MMA, DMA, the sum of inorganic As+MMA+DMA and total As were not different in the two groups, while arsenobetaine appeared significantly higher in the controls than in the workers. The different species of urinary As were all significantly correlated. Urinary excretion of As^3 was associated with the consumption of mineral water and with residence in an industrial zone, while MMA, DMA, arsenobetaine, the sum of inorganic As+MMA+DMA and total As urinary excretion were associated with the consumption of crustaceans and/or shellfish 3 days or less before urine collection. Multiple regression analysis confirmed these results. In conclusion, in populations with a high consumption of seafood, living in areas characterized by coastal/marine As pollution, only speciation of As can identify a prevalent role of environmental sources, like the consumption of seafood contaminated by As, in determining urinary As excretion, and exclude an occupational origin of the exposure.
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