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Arsenic and selenium in lung, liver, and kidney tissue from dead smelter workers.
  1. P O Wester,
  2. D Brune,
  3. G Nordberg

    Abstract

    Concentrations of arsenic and selenium in lung, liver, and kidney tissue from dead smelter workers and from a control group have been determined with the aid of neutron activation analysis. A sevenfold increase of arsenic was found in lung tissue from the exposed workers compared with the control group. The median value of arsenic in lung tissue from workers dead from respiratory cancer was not higher than corresponding values from workers dead from other malignancies or from cardiovascular or other diseases. With increasing period of retirement the malignancies or from cardiovascular or other diseases. With increasing period of retirement the arsenic content diminished in liver tissue but not in lung tissue, indicating a long biological half life of arsenic in lung tissue. The workers dead from malignancies had a higher As/Se quotient than workers dead from other diseases, which does not contradict the protective theory of selenium. Accumulation of antimony, cadmium, lead and lanthanum was observed in lung tissue from the exposed workers. Six of the workers died from lung cancer and the highest concentrations of any of the elements were always observed in the lung tissue from these six cases. This observation speaks in favour of a multifactorial cause behind the excess mortality from lung cancer in smelter workers.

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