(HealthDay News) – Arsenic exposure in drinking water is associated with impaired lung function, according to a study published online July 12 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Faruque Parvez, PhD, MPH, from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues evaluated the association between arsenic exposure (measured by well water and urinary arsenic concentrations at baseline) and pulmonary function in 950 individuals who presented with any respiratory symptom among a population-based cohort of 20,033 adults.

The researchers found that for every one standard deviation (SD) increase in baseline water arsenic exposure there was a significantly lower level of forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1; -46.5ml) and forced vital capacity (FVC; -53.1ml) in models adjusted for age, gender, body mass index, smoking, socioeconomic status, betel nut use, and arsenical skin lesions status. For baseline urinary arsenic and FEV1 (-48.3ml) and FVC (-55.2ml) there was a similar significant inverse relation in adjusted models. There was a dose-related decrease in lung function with increasing levels of baseline water and urinary arsenic, which remained significant in never smokers and individuals without skin lesions.

“This large population-based study confirms that arsenic exposure is associated with impaired lung function and the deleterious effect is evident at low- to moderate-dose range,” the authors write.

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