Arsenic exposure from drinking water and endothelial dysfunction in Bangladeshi adolescents

Shohreh F. Farzan, HEM Mahbubul Eunus, Syed Emdadul Haque, Golam Sarwar, AKM Rabiul Hasan, Fen Wu, Tariqul Islam, Alauddin Ahmed, Mohammad Shahriar, Farzana Jasmine, Muhammad G. Kibriya, Faruque Parvez, Margaret R. Karagas, Yu Chen, Habibul Ahsan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with ∼80% of CVD-related deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Growing evidence suggests that chronic arsenic exposure may contribute to CVD through its effect on endothelial function in adults. However, few studies have examined the influence of arsenic exposure on cardiovascular health in children and adolescents. To examine arsenic's relation to preclinical markers of endothelial dysfunction, we enrolled 200 adolescent children (ages 15–19 years; median 17) of adult participants in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS), in Araihazar, Bangladesh. Participants' arsenic exposure was determined by recall of lifetime well usage for drinking water. As part of HEALS, wells were color-coded to indicate arsenic level (<10 μg/L, 10–50 μg/L, >50 μg/L). Endothelial function was measured by recording fingertip arterial pulsatile volume change and reactive hyperemia index (RHI) score, an independent CVD risk factor, was calculated from these measurements. In linear regression models adjusted for participant's sex, age, education, maternal education, land ownership and body weight, individuals who reported always drinking water from wells with >50 μg/L arsenic had a 11.75% lower level of RHI (95% CI: −21.26, −1.09, p = 0.03), as compared to participants who drank exclusively from wells with ≤50 μg/L arsenic. Sex-stratified analyses suggest that these associations were stronger in female participants. As compared to individuals who drank exclusively from wells with ≤50 μg/L arsenic, the use of wells with >50 μg/L arsenic was associated with 14.36% lower RHI (95% CI: −25.69, −1.29, p = 0.03) in females, as compared to 5.35% lower RHI (95% CI: −22.28, 15.37, p = 0.58) in males for the same comparison. Our results suggest that chronic arsenic exposure may be related to endothelial dysfunction in adolescents, especially among females. Further work is needed to confirm these findings and examine whether these changes may increase risk of later adverse cardiovascular health events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112697
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - May 15 2022


  • Adolescents
  • Arsenic
  • Bangladesh
  • Cardiovascular
  • Endothelial function
  • Tube well

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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