Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 9–21 | Cite as

Health Risk Assessment and Urinary Excretion of Children Exposed to Arsenic through Drinking Water and Soils in Sonora, Mexico

  • Leticia García-Rico
  • Diana Meza-Figueroa
  • A. Jay Gandolfi
  • Carlos Ibañez del Rivero
  • Marco A. Martínez-Cinco
  • Maria M. Meza-MontenegroEmail author


Environmental arsenic exposure is associated with increased risk of non-cancerous chronic diseases and a variety of cancers in humans. The aims of this study were to carry out for the first time a health risk assessment for two common arsenic exposure routes (drinking water and soil ingestion) in children living in the most important agricultural areas in the Yaqui and Mayo valleys in Sonora, Mexico. Drinking water sampling was conducted in the wells of 57 towns. A cross-sectional study was done in 306 children from 13 villages in the valleys. First morning void urine samples were analyzed for inorganic arsenic (InAs) and monomethyl and dimethyl arsenic (MMA and DMA) by HPLC/ICP-MS. The results showed a wide range of arsenic levels in drinking water between 2.7 and 98.7 μg As/L. Arsenic levels in agricultural and backyard soils were in the range of < 10–27 mg As/kg. The hazard index (HI) = ∑hazard quotient (HQ) for drinking water, agricultural soil, and backyard soil showed values > 1 in 100% of the study towns, and the carcinogenic risk (CR) was greater than 1E−04 in 85%. The average of arsenic excreted in urine was 31.7 μg As/L, and DMA had the highest proportion in urine, with averages of 77.8%, followed by InAs and MMA with 11.4 and 10.9%, respectively, percentages similar to those reported in the literature. Additionally, positive correlations between urinary arsenic levels and HI values were found (r = 0.59, P = 0.000). These results indicated that this population is at high risk of developing chronic diseases including cancer.


Arsenic Drinking water Soil Health risk assessment Children Urinary arsenic 



We are grateful to Dr. A. Jay Gandolfi of the University of Arizona for making the arsenic investigation in Sonora, Mexico, a reality, and for his support in consolidating our research group in the arsenic field. In addition, we would like to thank Dr. Paul W. Kilpatrick for helping with the English edition. This research was supported by CONACYT-FONSALUD Grant 000000233976, the NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program at the University of Arizona (ES 04940), and the PROFAPI_00396 and PROFAPI_539 Grants at ITSON.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The protocol of urine collection was approved by the Human Subject Committee of the Technological Institute of Sonora (ITSON). A signed consent for each participant and a signed parental consent for each child were obtained.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leticia García-Rico
    • 1
    • 2
  • Diana Meza-Figueroa
    • 3
  • A. Jay Gandolfi
    • 4
  • Carlos Ibañez del Rivero
    • 5
  • Marco A. Martínez-Cinco
    • 6
  • Maria M. Meza-Montenegro
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y DesarrolloHermosilloMexico
  2. 2.Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias Especialidad en BiotecnologíaInstituto Tecnológico de SonoraObregónMexico
  3. 3.Departamento de Geología, División de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de SonoraHermosilloMexico
  4. 4.Department of Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  5. 5.Programa de Maestría, Departamento de Geología, División de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de SonoraHermosilloMexico
  6. 6.División de Estudios de Posgrado, Facultad de Ingeniería QuímicaUniversidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (UMSNH)MoreliaMexico
  7. 7.Departamento de Recursos NaturalesInstituto Tecnológico de SonoraCd. ObregónMexico

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