(HealthDay News) — Exposure to arsenic in drinking water from wells may lower IQ in children, according to research published online April 1 in Environmental Health.

Gail A. Wasserman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues assessed the relationship between exposure to arsenic in drinking water and IQ in 272 children in grades 3–5 in Maine.

The researchers found that, after adjustment for maternal IQ and education, children exposed to drinking water arsenic at concentrations of 5µg/L or higher, compared with >5µg/L, had significant reductions in Full Scale IQ and most index scores (Perceptual Reasoning, Working Memory, and Verbal Comprehension). An inverse association was found between maternal IQ and education and levels of drinking water arsenic.

“The magnitude of the association between drinking water arsenic and child IQ raises the possibility that levels of drinking water arsenic ≥5µg/L, levels that are not uncommon in the United States, pose a threat to child development,” the authors write.

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