Studies investigating the correlation between metal content in water and metal levels in children are scarce worldwide, but especially in developing nations. Therefore, this study investigates the correlation between arsenic, chromium, and mercury concentrations in drinking and cooking water and in blood and urine samples collected from healthy and supposedly non-exposed children from a rural area in Yucatan, Mexico. Mercury in water shows concentrations above the recommended World Health Organization (WHO) value for drinking and cooking water. Also, 25% of the children show mercury in urine above the WHO recommended value. Multivariate analyses show a significant role for drinking and cooking water as a vector of exposure in children. Also, the factor analysis shows chronic exposure in the case of arsenic, as well as an ongoing detoxification process through urine in the case of mercury. Further studies should be done in order to determine other potential metal exposure pathways among children.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Metal levels below the detection limit were represented as zero (0) for our non-parametric statistical tests. Subject 27 did not participate in the ethnographic study, so his/her values are excluded from analyses based on sex and school.
Abernathy CO, Thomas DJ, Calderon RL (2003) Health effects and risk assessment of arsenic. J Nutr 133:1536S–1538S
Adimado AA, Baah DA (2002) Hg in human blood, urine, hair, nail, and fish from the Ankobra and Tano river basins in Southwestern Ghana. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 68:339–346
Arcega-Cabrera F, Fargher L (2016) Education, fish consumption, well water, chicken coops, and cooking fires: using biogeochemistry and ethnography to study exposure of children from Yucatan, Mexico to metals and arsenic. Sci Total Environ 568:75–82
Arcega-Cabrera F, Noreña-Barroso E, Oceguera-Vargas I (2014a) Lead from hunting activities and its potential environmental threat to wildlife in a protected wetland in Yucatan, Mexico. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 100:251–257
Arcega-Cabrera F, Velázquez-Tavera N, Fargher L, Derrien M, Noreña-Barroso E (2014b) Fecal sterols, seasonal variability, and probable sources along the ring of cenotes, Yucatan, Mexico. J Contam Hydrol 168:41–49
ATSDR (2007) Toxicological profile for arsenic. Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, p 15
Basu A, Mahata J, Gupta S, Giri AK (2001) Genetic toxicology of a paradoxical human carcinogen, arsenic: a review. Mutat Res 488:171–194
Bose-O’Reilly S, Lettmeier B, Gothe RM, Beinhoff C, Siebert U, Drasch G (2008) Mercury as a serious health hazard for children in gold mining areas. Environ Res 107:89–97
Caceres D, Pino P, Montesinos N, Atalah E, Amigo H, Loomis D (2005) Exposure to inorganic arsenic in drinking water and total urinary arsenic concentration in a Chilean population. Environ Res 98:151–159
Calderon RL, Hudgens E, Le XC, Schreinemachers D, Thomas DJ (1999) Excretion of arsenic in urine as a function of exposure to arsenic in drinking water. Environ Health Perspect 107:663–667
Centeno JA, Mullick FG, Martinez L, Page NP, Gibb H, Longfellow D, Thompson C, Ladich ER (2002) Pathology related to chronic arsenic exposure. Environ Health Perspect 110(Suppl. 5):883–886
Chen C, Chiou H, Huang W, Chen S, Hsueh S, Tseng C, Lin L, Shyu M, Lai M (1997) Systemic non-carcinogenic effects and developmental toxicity of inorganic arsenic. In: Abernathy CO, Calderon RL, Chappell WR (eds) Arsenic exposure and health effects. Chapman & Hall, London, p 124
Coelho P, Silva S, Roma-Torres J, Costa C, Henriques A, Teixeira J, Gomes M, Mayan O (2007) Health impact of living near an abandoned mine—case study: Jales mines. Int J Hyg Environ Health 210:399–402
Concha G, Vogler G, Nermell B, Vahter M (2002) Intraindividual variation in the metabolism of inorganic arsenic. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 75:576–580
Costa M, Klein CB (2006) Toxicity and carcinogenicity of chromium compounds in humans. Crit Rev Toxicol 36:155–163
Crecelius EA (1977) Changes in the chemical speciation of arsenic following ingestion byman. Environ Health Perspect 19:147–150
EPA (1984) Health assessment document for inorganic arsenic. In: Environmental health criteria. EPA, Cincinnati
EPA (2002) Child-specific exposure factors handbook. US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington
Foa V, Colombi A, Maroni M, Burratti M (1987) Arsenic. In: Biological indicators for the assessment of human exposure to industrial chemical. CEC, Ispra
Gebel TW (2001) Genotoxicity of arsenical compounds. Int J Hyg Environ Health 203:249–262
Hakala E, Pyy L (1995) Assessment of exposure to inorganic arsenic by determining the arsenic species excreted in urine. Toxicol Lett 77:249–258
Hall M, Chen Y, Ahsan H, Slavkovich V, van Geen A, Parvez F, Graziano J (2006) Blood arsenic as a biomarker of arsenic exposure: results from a prospective study. Toxicology 225:225–233
Hinwood AL, Sim MR, Jolley D, de Klerk N, Bastone EB, Gerostamoulos J, Drummer OH (2004) Exposure to inorganic arsenic in soil increases urinary inorganic arsenic concentrations of residents living in old mining areas. Environ Geochem Health 26:27–36
Hwang YH, Bornschein RL, Grote J, Menrath W, Roda S (1997) Urinary arsenic excretion as a biomarker of arsenic exposure in children. Arch Environ Health 52:139–147
ILO-International Labour Office, Stellman JM (ed) (1998) Encyclopaedia of occupational health and safety, vol 1, 4th edn. International Labour Office, Geneva, ISBN 92-2-109203-8
INEGI (2010) Censo general de Población y Vivienda. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, Mexico City
Jaishankar M, Tseten T, Anbalagan N, Mathew B, Beeregowda K N (2014) Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdiscip Toxicol 7(2):60–72
Kannan GM, Tripathi N, Dube SN, Gupta M, Flora SJ (2001) Toxic effects of arsenic(III) on some hematopoietic and central nervous system variables in rats and guinea pigs. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 39:675–682
Karagas MR, Le CX, Morris S, Blum J, Lu X, Spate V, Carey M, Stannard V, Klaue B, Tosteson TD (2001) Markers of low level arsenic exposure for evaluating human cancer risks in a US population. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 14(2):171–175
Ministry of Environment (ME) (2007) A detailed investigation for the actual condition of soil pollution in abandoned metal mines. Ministry of Environment, Gwacheon
Moreno ME, Acosta-Saavedra LC, Meza-Figueroa D, Vera E, Cebrian ME, Ostrosky-Wegman P, Calderon-Aranda ES (2010) Biomonitoring of metal in children living in a mine tailings zone in Southern Mexico: a pilot study. Int J Hyg Environ Health 213:252–258
Mortada WI, Sobh MA, El-Defrawy MM, Farahat SE (2002) Reference intervals of cadmium, lead, and mercury in blood, urine, hair, and nails among residents in Mansoura city, Nile delta Egypt. Environ Res 90:104–110
Nriagu JO (1988) A silent epidemic of environmental metal poisoning? Environ Pollut 50:139–161
Pacheco AJ, Calderón RL, Cabrera SA (2004) Delineación de la zona de protección hidrogeológica para el campo de pozos de la planta Mérida I, en la ciudad de Mérida, Yucatán, México. Ingeniería 8:7–16
SAGAR (2006) Pesticides use in Yucatan. Technical report
Sahin B, Temiz F, Ozer G, Yuksel B, Kemal A, Onenli N, Mazman M, Murat G (2012) Chromium levels in healthy and newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic children. Pediatr Int 54:780–785
Sakong J (2007) Health risks associated with contamination of environment by abandoned mines. Yeungnam Univ. J Med 24:S212–S220 (Korean)
Seigneur C, Vijayaraghavan K, Lohman K, Karamchandani P, Scott C (2004) Global source attribution for mercury deposition in the United States. Environ Sci Technol 38(2):555–569
Wang Z, Chai L, Yang Z, Wang Y, Wang H (2010) Identifying sources and assessing potential risk of heavy metals in soils from direct exposure to children in a mine-impacted city, Changsha, China. J Environ Qual 39:1616–1623
WHO (1993) World Health Organization, guidelines for drinking-water quality. World Health Organization, Geneva
Yonghua L (2013) Environmental contamination and risk assessment of mercury from a historic mercury mine located in southwestern China. Environ Geochem Health 35:27–36
YongMin C, SungChul S, Seung-Hyun C, SeungKil L, KyungHee K, Hae-Joon K, Jae-Wook C (2013) Association of arsenic levels in soil and water with urinary arsenic concentration of residents in the vicinity of closed metal mines. Int J Hyg Environ Health 216:255–262
Yousef S, Eapen V, Zoubeidi T, Kosanovic M, Mabrouk A, Adem A (2013) Learning disorder and blood concentration of heavy metals in the United Arab Emirates. Asian J Pshychiatry 6:394–400
We wish to thank FOSEC Salud–CONACYT (Project 139738) for funding this project. We thank Yucatan’s Secretary of Education as well as principals for information and support. We thank the children and their families for their enthusiastic participation. We thank Fernando Mex Esquivel, and all students involved in this project for their invaluable help during the sampling campaign, as well as Abigail Rosales Flores for her assistance in the ethnographic research. We thank Alejandra Martínez Escamilla for project administration, and reviewers for their insightful remarks that significantly improve the quality of the article.
All procedures in this project involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the UNAM’s research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
We also thank the parents for providing informed consent for all the children included in this study.
About this article
Cite this article
Arcega-Cabrera, F., Fargher, L.F., Oceguera-Vargas, I. et al. Water Consumption as Source of Arsenic, Chromium, and Mercury in Children Living in Rural Yucatan, Mexico: Blood and Urine Levels. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 99, 452–459 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-017-2147-x
- Cultural patterns