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      Environmental exposure to arsenic and chromium in an industrial area

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          Arsenic and chromium are widespread environmental contaminants that affect global health due to their toxicity and carcinogenicity. To date, few studies have investigated exposure to arsenic and chromium in a population residing in a high-risk environmental area. The aim of this study is to evaluate the exposure to arsenic and chromium in the general population with no occupational exposure to these metals, resident in the industrial area of Taranto, Southern Italy, through biological monitoring techniques. We measured the levels of chromium, inorganic arsenic, and methylated metabolites, in the urine samples of 279 subjects residing in Taranto and neighboring areas. Qualified health staff administered a standardized structured questionnaire investigating lifestyle habits and controlling for confounding factors. The biological monitoring data showed high urinary concentrations of both the heavy metals investigated, particularly Cr. On this basis, it will be necessary to carry out an organized environmental monitoring program, taking into consideration all exposure routes so as to correlate the environmental concentrations of these metals with the biomonitoring results.

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          Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in metal carcinogenesis and cocarcinogenesis: nickel, arsenic, and chromium.

          Chronic exposure to nickel(II), chromium(VI), or inorganic arsenic (iAs) has long been known to increase cancer incidence among affected individuals. Recent epidemiological studies have found that carcinogenic risks associated with chromate and iAs exposures were substantially higher than previously thought, which led to major revisions of the federal standards regulating ambient and drinking water levels. Genotoxic effects of Cr(VI) and iAs are strongly influenced by their intracellular metabolism, which creates several reactive intermediates and byproducts. Toxic metals are capable of potent and surprisingly selective activation of stress-signaling pathways, which are known to contribute to the development of human cancers. Depending on the metal, ascorbate (vitamin C) has been found to act either as a strong enhancer or suppressor of toxic responses in human cells. In addition to genetic damage via both oxidative and nonoxidative (DNA adducts) mechanisms, metals can also cause significant changes in DNA methylation and histone modifications, leading to epigenetic silencing or reactivation of gene expression. In vitro genotoxicity experiments and recent animal carcinogenicity studies provided strong support for the idea that metals can act as cocarcinogens in combination with nonmetal carcinogens. Cocarcinogenic and comutagenic effects of metals are likely to stem from their ability to interfere with DNA repair processes. Overall, metal carcinogenesis appears to require the formation of specific metal complexes, chromosomal damage, and activation of signal transduction pathways promoting survival and expansion of genetically/epigenetically altered cells.
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            Arsenic: health effects, mechanisms of actions, and research issues.

            A meeting on the health effects of arsenic (As), its modes of action, and areas in need of future research was held in Hunt Valley, Maryland, on 22-24 September 1997. Exposure to As in drinking water has been associated with the development of skin and internal cancers and noncarcinogenic effects such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and cardiovascular diseases. There is little data on specific mechanism(s) of action for As, but a great deal of information on possible modes of action. Although arsenite [As(III)] can inhibit more than 200 enzymes, events underlying the induction of the noncarcinogenic effects of As are not understood. With respect to carcinogenicity, As can affect DNA repair, methylation of DNA, and increase radical formation and activation of the protooncogene c-myc, but none of these potential pathways have widespread acceptance as the principal etiologic event. In addition, there are no accepted models for the study of As-induced carcinogenesis. At the final meeting session we considered research needs. Among the most important areas cited were a) As metabolism and its interaction with cellular constituents; b) possible bioaccumulation of As; c) interactions with other metals; d) effects of As on genetic material; e) development of animal models and cell systems to study effects of As; and f) a better characterization of human exposures as related to health risks. Some of the barriers to the advancement of As research included an apparent lack of interest in the United States on As research; lack of relevant animal models; difficulty with adoption of uniform methodologies; lack of accepted biomarkers; and the need for a central storage repository for stored specimens.
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              Public health. Arsenic epidemiology and drinking water standards.


                Author and article information

                39 080 5478256 ,
                Environ Sci Pollut Res Int
                Environ Sci Pollut Res Int
                Environmental Science and Pollution Research International
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                20 March 2017
                20 March 2017
                : 24
                : 12
                : 11528-11535
                [1 ]GRID grid.7644.1, Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine, Occupational Medicine “B. Ramazzini”, , University of Bari Medical School, ; Giulio Cesare Square 11, 70124 Bari, Italy
                [2 ]Health Local Unit of Barletta-Andria-Trani, 76121 Barletta, Italy
                Author notes

                Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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                © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017


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