Urinary arsenic methylation profile in children exposed to low arsenic levels through drinking water

Maria M. Meza-Montenegro, Michael J. Kopplin, Jefferey L. Burgess, A. Jay Gandolfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


There is a lack of information on arsenic metabolism in children exposed chronically to low levels of arsenic (<50 μg L-1). The objective of this study was to determine the methylation profile of urinary arsenic metabolites in children exposed to low-level concentrations of arsenic via their drinking water. A cross-sectional study was undertaken in 50 children from four towns in the Yaqui Valley, Sonora, with total arsenic values of 39.9, 16.8, 7.3, and 5.5 μg L-1 in their drinking water, respectively. First morning void samples were analyzed for inorganic-As (InAs), mono and dimethyl arsenic (MMA and DMA). The total arsenic excreted in urine ranged from 23.1 to 99.1 μg L-1 and these levels did not vary by sex. Children with the highest level of total arsenic in their drinking water excreted the highest amount in urine and the length of residence and age also had significant contribution. Children with a lower range of arsenic exposure (16.8-5.5 μg L-1) had similar amounts of arsenic in urine with values of 23.1, 28.2, and 32.6 μg L-1, respectively. DMA had the highest proportion in urine (52.1-74.7%), followed by InAs (16.3-34.9%) and MMA (4.4-8.4%). Compared to other reports, these children excreted a low %MMA (6.1%), and children from the towns with the lowest levels of arsenic had the highest %InAs and the lowest %DMA. This variability in arsenic methylation was partially explained by arsenic concentration in drinking water, years of residence and age, and may reflect genetic differences or more contribution from different exposure routes. In conclusion, our results show that at low levels of exposure the children's ability to metabolize InAs did not have a linear association with the levels of arsenic, and overall children from the Yaqui Valley excrete a lower %MMA than expected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-970
Number of pages14
JournalToxicological and Environmental Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Children
  • Drinking water
  • Low-level exposure
  • Sonora
  • Urinary arsenic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Urinary arsenic methylation profile in children exposed to low arsenic levels through drinking water'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this