Arsenic Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Exposure Assessment of Metals

Project Leader:
Margaret R. Karagas, Ph.D.
Professor, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Director, Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Dartmouth

Project Co-Leaders: Zhigang Li Ph.D., Lisa Chasan-Taber Sc.D., Emily Baker M.D. Consultants: Susan Korrick Ph.D. (Harvard University), Yu Chen Ph.D. (New York University)

This project is a biomedical project and integral component of the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program (SRP) focusing on the environmental and health impact of toxic metal exposure in the US. The project builds on nearly 20 years of experience designing and testing biomarkers of environmentally relevant levels of exposure, studying their health impacts, and determining possible modifiers of these associations (e.g., through genetic factors or multiple exposures). Arsenic is the top contaminant on the ATSDR 2013 Substance Priority List and is deemed of great concern for human health.

In the State of New Hampshire, about 40% of the population relies on private, unregulated water systems and over 10% of these contain arsenic above the current MCL of 10µg/L (or parts per billion). Our current initiative, the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study is a study of pregnant women who use private wells. Emerging data indicate that exposure to relatively low levels of arsenic during pregnancy may adversely affect both the mother and child. The current study focuses on the effects of arsenic exposure during pregnancy on two major indicators of chronic illnesses prevalent in the US population - blood pressure (linked to cardiovascular disease) and glucose metabolism (linked to diabetes and risk factor for cardiovascular disease). The project will extend our current examination of exposure to arsenic during pregnancy on birth outcomes such as birth weight, fetal growth restriction and gestational age) and expand our enrollment of pregnant women to at least 1500 mother-infant pairs.

To our knowledge, the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study represents one of the only molecular epidemiologic investigations of early life exposure to arsenic in mothers and children in the US. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and risk for developing cardiovascular disease begins in early life. Our goal is to inform risk assessment and management of toxic metals in the US, and aid early intervention strategies to prevent adverse health effects from these exposures.

For related information visit the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center

Recent Publications

Margaret Karagas Pubmed

Zhigang Li Pubmed

Lisa Chasan-Taber Pubmed

Emily Baker Pubmed