Blood arsenic as a biomarker of arsenic exposure: Results from a prospective study

Marni Hall, Yu Chen, Habibul Ahsan, Vesna Slavkovich, Alexander van Geen, Faruque Parvez, Joseph Graziano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to arsenic (As)-contaminated drinking water affects millions of people worldwide. Arsenic exposure is associated with skin lesions, skin, lung, kidney and liver cancers, neurologic and cardiovascular effects. Past studies involving biomarkers of As exposure have typically examined urinary As (UAs) (adjusted for urinary creatinine), hair or toenail As, but not blood As (BAs) since blood concentrations are exceedingly low and are not detectable by conventional atomic absorption spectrophotometric techniques. In a case-cohort analysis of 303 newly diagnosed cases of skin lesions, and 849 subcohort members randomly selected from 8092 participants in the health effects of as longitudinal study (HEALS) in Araihazar, Bangladesh, we measured blood, urine and water As concentrations, and examined their associations with each other, and with the risk for skin lesions. BAs concentrations were highly correlated with creatinine-adjusted UAs concentrations (r = 0.85) and with water As (WAs) (r = 0.75). We observed consistent dose-response relationships between the risk of skin lesions and all the measures of As exposure. Rate ratios (RRs) for skin lesions by quintile of As exposure, adjusted for age and gender, revealed that the two highest quintiles were significantly related to an increased risk of skin lesions for each measure of exposure: BAs, UAs, WAs and a time-weighted water As variable. This prospective study confirms the increased risk of skin lesions in relation to As concentrations in blood, urine and water and also establishes that BAs is a useful biomarker of As exposure in this study population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2006


  • Arsenic
  • Bangladesh
  • Blood biomarker
  • Case-cohort study
  • Skin lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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