Medical Geology in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

  • M. Aurora ArmientaEmail author
  • Ramiro Rodríguez
  • Nuria Segovia
  • Michele Monteil
Part of the International Year of Planet Earth book series (IYPE)


An overview of the occurrence, concentrations, and possible sources of toxic elements released by geogenic processes that may threat the health of millions of people of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean is presented. The geology and tectonic characteristics of Mexico and Central America constitute an appropriate environment for the presence of arsenic and fluoride in groundwater of many zones of the area. Health problems linked with As-tainted water consumption have been documented in Mexico and Nicaragua where epidemiological and toxicological studies have been developed. Fluorosis has been recognized mainly in the central and northern part of Mexico and also in Antigua, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad. Specific health effects resulting from exposure to natural dust transported from Africa have been identified in the Caribbean. Radon exposure may also affect the population living in volcanic and active tectonic environments. However, this problem has only been studied by some researchers, mainly in Mexico and Nicaragua. Collaboration among research groups and authorities has been scarce. The review presented here, although not exhaustive, shows the urgency for increasing that collaboration specially to identify polluted areas, sources, and health effects, of the routine collection and analysis of arsenic and fluoride in all potable water sources of the area, and of developing short-term measures to decrease their concentrations to safe levels.


Mexico Central America Nicaragua El Salvador Cuba Caribbean Arsenic Fluorine Radon 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Aurora Armienta
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ramiro Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Nuria Segovia
    • 1
  • Michele Monteil
    • 2
  1. 1.Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Instituto de GeofísicaMéxicoMéxico
  2. 2.University of West IndiesSt. AugustineJamaica

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