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Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Tanzania results in occupational exposures and environmental contamination to toxic chemical elements such as arsenic and mercury. Populations living in such areas may be exposed by various routes, and prenatal exposure to arsenic and mercury has been associated with adverse birth outcomes and developmental delays. The aim of this study was to determine if levels of arsenic and mercury differed among pregnant women living in areas with and without ASGM activities in Northern Tanzania. This cross-sectional study is part of the ongoing Mining and Health prospective longitudinal study. Spot urine samples and dried blood spots were collected at the antenatal health clinics from pregnant women (n = 1056) at 16-27 weeks gestation. Urine samples were analyzed for total arsenic (T-As) and dried blood spots were analyzed for total mercury (T-Hg). Women in the ASGM cohort had median T-As levels (9.4 μg/L;
4.9-15.1) and T-Hg levels (1.2 μg/L;
0.8-1.86) that were significantly higher than the median T-As levels (6.28 μg/L;
3.7-14.1) and T-Hg levels (0.66 μg/L;
0.3-1.2) of women in the non-ASGM cohort (Mann-Whitney U test, T-As: z = -9.881, p = 0.0005; T-Hg: z = -3.502, p < 0.0001). Among pregnant women from ASGM areas, 25% had urinary T-As and 75% had blood T-Hg above the established human biomonitoring reference values of 15 and 0.80 μg/L. In the ASGM cohort, lower maternal education and low socioeconomic status increased the odds of higher T-As levels by 20% (p < 0.05) and 10% (p < 0.05), respectively. Women involved in mining activities and those of low socioeconomic status had increased odds of higher T-Hg by 70% (p < 0.001) and 10% (p < 0.05), respectively. Arsenic and mercury concentrations among women in non-ASGM areas suggest exposure sources beyond ASGM activities that need to be identified. Arsenic and mercury levels in women in Tanzania are of public health concern and their association with adverse birth and child developmental outcomes will be examined in future studies on this cohort.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Environmental research
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Exposure of the female parent, human or animal, to potentially harmful chemical, physical, or biological agents in the environment or to environmental factors that may include ionizing radiation, pathogenic organisms, or toxic chemicals that may affect offspring. It includes pre-conception maternal exposure.
Neurologic disorders associated with exposure to inorganic and organic forms of MERCURY. Acute intoxication may be associated with gastrointestinal disturbances, mental status changes, and PARAPARESIS. Chronic exposure to inorganic mercury usually occurs in industrial workers, and manifests as mental confusion, prominent behavioral changes (including psychosis), DYSKINESIAS, and NEURITIS. Alkyl mercury poisoning may occur through ingestion of contaminated seafood or grain, and its characteristic features include POLYNEUROPATHY; ATAXIA; vision loss; NYSTAGMUS, PATHOLOGIC; and DEAFNESS. (From Joynt, Clinical Neurology, 1997, Ch20, pp10-15)
Disorders associated with acute or chronic exposure to compounds containing ARSENIC (ARSENICALS) which may be fatal. Acute oral ingestion is associated with gastrointestinal symptoms and an encephalopathy which may manifest as SEIZURES, mental status changes, and COMA. Chronic exposure is associated with mucosal irritation, desquamating rash, myalgias, peripheral neuropathy, and white transverse (Mees) lines in the fingernails. (Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p1212)
Unstable isotopes of gold that decay or disintegrate emitting radiation. Au 185-196, 198-201, and 203 are radioactive gold isotopes.
A shiny gray element with atomic symbol As, atomic number 33, and atomic weight 75. It occurs throughout the universe, mostly in the form of metallic arsenides. Most forms are toxic. According to the Fourth Annual Report on Carcinogens (NTP 85-002, 1985), arsenic and certain arsenic compounds have been listed as known carcinogens. (From Merck Index, 11th ed)
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism ...
Obstetrics and gynaecology
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