Age at Exposure to Arsenic in Water and Mortality 30-40 Years after Exposure Cessation

Taehyun Roh, Craig Steinmaus, Guillermo Marshall, Catterina Ferreccio, Jane Liaw, Allan H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Arsenic in drinking water is known to cause cancer and noncancer diseases, but little is known about its association with age at exposure. Here, we investigated age at arsenic exposure and mortality in Antofagasta, Chile, 30-40 years after a distinct period of very high water arsenic concentrations (1958-1970).We calculated standardizedmortality ratios (SMRs) comparing Antofagasta with the rest ofChile for 2001-2010 by sex and age at potential first exposure. A remarkable relationship with age at first exposure was found for bronchiectasis, with increased risk in adults 30-40 years after exposure being confined to those who were in utero (SMR = 11.7, 95% confidence interval (CI): 4.3, 25.4) or aged 1-10 years (SMR = 5.4, 95% CI: 1.1, 15.8) during the high-exposure period. Increased SMRs for lung, bladder, and laryngeal cancer were evident for exposures starting at all ages, but the highest SMRs were for exposures beginning at birth (for bladder cancer, SMR = 16.0 (95% CI: 10.3, 23.8); for laryngeal cancer, SMR = 6.8 (95% CI: 2.2, 15.8); for lung cancer, SMR = 3.8 (95% CI: 2.9, 4.9)). These findings suggest that interventions targeting early-life arsenic exposure could have major impacts in reducing long-term mortality due to arsenic 30-40 years after exposure ends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2297-2305
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Chile
  • age at first exposure
  • arsenic
  • drinking water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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