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Urinary arsenic concentration, airway inflammation, and lung function in the U.S. adult population

Shih, Yu-Hsuan, Argos, Maria, Turyk, Mary E.
Environmental research 2019 v.175 pp. 308-315
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, adults, arsenic, children, drinking water, females, inflammation, lung function, lung neoplasms, males, nitric oxide, regression analysis, risk, United States
Inorganic arsenic (iAs) is ubiquitous in the environment and has been linked to lung cancer and a number of non-malignant lung disease in both adults and children. However, most studies were conducted in populations with higher arsenic exposure levels in drinking water and relatively little epidemiologic research evaluated the impacts of low levels iAs exposure on non-malignant lung disease among populations that are not primarily exposed to arsenic through drinking water.We assessed the associations of arsenic exposure with airway inflammation and lung function among U.S. adults aged 20–79 years using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2012 cycles.Two measures of arsenic exposure, urinary total arsenic and dimethylarsonic acid (DMA), were used. We calibrated these two exposure measures by regressing their concentrations by arsenobetaine and extracting the residuals to calculate estimated total arsenic and estimated DMA. Arsenic exposures were modeled as log-transformed continuous variables as well as quartile categories. Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO), an indicator of respiratory inflammation, was available for participants. For lung function, the best forced expiratory volume in the first one second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory flow rate (FEF) 25–75%, their percent estimated values, ratios of FEV1 to FVC, and FEF 25–75% to FVC were used (i.e. FEV1/FVC and FEF/FVC). Weighted multivariable linear regression models, adjusted for potential confounders, were used to evaluate the association of arsenic exposure with airway inflammation and lung function overall, and among males and females.Significant associations between arsenic exposure and increased airway inflammation were found. A two-fold increase in urinary total arsenic and DMA was associated with 23.87% (95% CI: 2.66, 49.46) and 14.05% (95% CI: 1.77, 27.81) higher levels of FENO, respectively. In addition, participants in the highest quartile of urinary total arsenic had FENO levels 8.49% (95% CI: 1.13, 16.39) higher than those in the lowest quartile. These associations were similar between males and females. Limited evidence was found for the association with respect to lung function and potential modification effect of sex.Arsenic exposure was related to increased risk of airway inflammation but there is limited evidence of an association in relation to lung function. Future research conducted in populations with relatively lower exposure levels that are not primarily exposed to arsenic through drinking water is needed to confirm our findings.