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Detecting arsenic-related skin lesions: Experiences from a large community-based survey in Bangladesh
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2007 (English)In: International Journal of Environmental Health Research, ISSN 0960-3123, E-ISSN 1369-1619, Vol. 17, no 2, 141-149 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Matlab, Bangladesh, to determine the prevalence of skin lesions (a three-step procedure) associated with arsenic exposure and discuss validity and feasibility in relation to recommended screening algorithms. Cases with skin lesions were identified by screening above 4 years of age (n = 166,934). Trained field teams conducted a careful house-to-house screening and identified 1682 individuals with skin lesions, who were referred to physicians for confirmation. Physicians diagnosed 579 cases as probable and documented all these with digital photographs. Two experts inspected all photographs for consensus agreement that was reached for 504 cases. Using the experts' opinions as reference, the positive predictive value of the physicians' diagnosis was 87% (male = 82% vs. female = 94%; p < 0.01). The physicians had difficulties in separating arsenic-induced keratosis from differential diagnoses, while probability for correct diagnosis was high for arsenic-related pigmentation changes. Including information on current arsenic concentration in drinking water (which was masked at time of skin examination) or urine in the diagnostic algorithm should have increased the number of false negative cases. In the present transition of drinking water sources these markers of current exposure levels provide no information on past exposure. A 2 - 3 step procedure with house-to-house screening and clinic-based confirmation of arsenic-induced skin lesions is a feasible approach. Information on arsenic concentration in current water sources or in urine should not have improved the precision in the diagnosis. These results may have policy implications for community screening of arsenic-related skin lesions in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 17, no 2, 141-149 p.
Keyword [en]
Arsenic, drinking-water, environmet, exposure, skin lesion, public health
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-10307DOI: 10.1080/09603120701219154ISI: 000246580400007PubMedID: 17616870OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-10307DiVA: diva2:38075
Available from: 2007-06-04 Created: 2007-06-04 Last updated: 2011-02-01Bibliographically approved

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Persson, Lars Åke
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Department of Women's and Children's Health
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