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, Rebecca Close, K. S. Exley, Helen Crabbe, Giovanni Leonardi, Antony Fletcher, D. A. Polya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


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 - 9 May 2016

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.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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