Urinary arsenic profiles reveal exposures to inorganic arsenic from private drinking water supplies in Cornwall, UK

D. R.S. Middleton, M. J. Watts*, E. M. Hamilton, E. L. Ander, R. M. Close, K. S. Exley, H. Crabbe, G. S. Leonardi, T. Fletcher, D. A. Polya

*Corresponding author for this work

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Private water supplies (PWS) in Cornwall, South West England exceeded the current WHO guidance value and UK prescribed concentration or value (PCV) for arsenic of 10 μg/L in 5% of properties surveyed (n = 497). In this follow-up study, the first of its kind in the UK, volunteers (n = 207) from 127 households who used their PWS for drinking, provided urine and drinking water samples for total As determination by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and urinary As speciation by high performance liquid chromatography ICP-MS (HPLC-ICP-MS). Arsenic concentrations exceeding 10 μg/L were found in the PWS of 10% of the volunteers. Unadjusted total urinary As concentrations were poorly correlated (Spearman's ρ= 0.36 (P < 0.001)) with PWS As largely due to the use of spot urine samples and the dominance of arsenobetaine (AB) from seafood sources. However, the osmolality adjusted sum, U-AsIMM, of urinary inorganic As species, arsenite (AsIII) and arsenate (AsV), and their metabolites, methylarsonate (MA) and dimethylarsinate (DMA), was found to strongly correlate (Spearman's ρ: 0.62 (P < 0.001)) with PWS As, indicating private water supplies as the dominant source of inorganic As exposure in the study population of PWS users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25656
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 09 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research was provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) via a University of Manchester/British Geological Survey University Funding Initiative (BUFI) PhD studentship (Contract No. GA/125/017, BUFI Ref: S204.2). The study team is grateful for the participation of the 215 volunteers who took part in the wider study of which more information can be found at www.bgs.ac.uk/research/highlights/2013/arsenicSW.html.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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