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Changes in urinary arsenic species and methylation capacity in original arsenic exposure cohort after water quality improvement

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Water quality improvement is the most efficient way to prevent arsenic exposure. After the cessation of arsenic ingestion, arsenic methylation capacity of the exposed population can change significantly. The factors associated with these changes remain poorly understood. Therefore, arsenic methylation capacity in a study cohort was estimated before and after water quality improvement in the present study. Results indicated that urinary content of the arsenic species in the study cohort significantly decreased after water quality improvement. In addition, the proportions of inorganic arsenic (%iAs) and monomethyl arsenic acid (%MMA) were significantly decreased, while proportions of dimethyl arsenic (%DMA) increased. The primary methylation index (PMI) and secondary methylation index (SMI) increased from 0.85 to 0.92 and 0.82 to 0.84, respectively. Arsenic species urinary content and arsenic methylation index varied slightly between the study cohort after water quality improvement and the control cohort. The rate of increase in PMI was higher than that in SMI. The study group aged 31–50 years had the highest increase in PMI. Logistic regression revealed that %DMA before water quality improvement was negatively associated with the increase in PMI, while %iAs were positively related, and %MMA were positively associated with the increase in SMI. It is concluded that urinary arsenic species content and arsenic methylation capacity increased to the levels of the control cohort after water quality improvement. An increase in primary arsenic methylation capacity may be a burden on the secondary arsenic methylation capacity. The main role of arsenic methylation capacity recovery may be the cessation of arsenic exposure.

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The work described in this paper was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41601559), the State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (Grant No. 41230749) and the Health and Family Planning Project of Inner Mongolia (Grant No. 201702045).

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Correspondence to Binggan Wei.

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Kong, C., Yang, L., Yu, J. et al. Changes in urinary arsenic species and methylation capacity in original arsenic exposure cohort after water quality improvement. Environ Geochem Health (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-020-00523-4

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  • Arsenic
  • Methylation capacity
  • Water quality improvement
  • Drinking groundwater
  • Change