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Title:The legacy of arsenic: Identification of arsenic exposure potential and negative health outcomes
Author(s):Scott, Maya Patrice
Director of Research:Smith, Rebecca L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Smith, Rebecca L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Arai, Yuji; Flaws, Jodi A.; Firkins, Lawrence D.
Department / Program:Pathobiology
Discipline:VMS - Pathobiology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Low Birth Weight
Drinking Water
Abstract:Arsenic is a common element with a multitude of industrial, medicinal, and agricultural uses. It can also cause many negative health effects, including several forms of cancer, skin lesions, and cardiovascular disease. In Florida, residual levels of arsenic and other chemicals from various arsenic-contaminated can lead to poor environmental quality in rural and urban residential areas. Former sites of contamination have since been abandoned or have been developed into playgrounds, nursing homes, subdivisions, and industrial workplaces. Many of these places are locations where people reside or frequently visit, and the increased concentration of arsenic in the soil may be a risk to human health, especially children. Pregnant women can be exposed to arsenic from environmental factors and consuming contaminated drinking water and food. Chronic exposure to arsenic during pregnancy can affect fetal growth and development, leading to low birth weight and other adverse birth outcomes. Some forms of long-term exposure to arsenic can result in adverse health effects, but the effects of sources are difficult to assess epidemiologically. Arsenic concentrations accrued by people can be measured using toenail samples and can serve as a proxy for chronic arsenic exposure. The overall goal of my research was to estimate the overall distribution of past and present usage of arsenic used in Florida and determine the degree to which arsenic that is in the environment from legacy uses can influence arsenic exposure of people today. For this dissertation, my first aim used secondary data pertaining to historic arsenic usage to investigate the spatial distribution of arsenic at the county level. Eight variables were summarized and categorized into two different types of arsenic indices that represent the arsenic distribution from natural occurrence and anthropogenic practices in Florida. I noticed that comparably high arsenic distributions mainly in counties located in the northwestern and southwestern regions in both the anthropogenic and natural indices with diverse arsenic sources contributions. The second aim examined if mothers in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, living in areas with varying levels of background arsenic in surface soil and water, experience differences in the risk of low birth weight in infants. Spatial interpolation techniques were used to interpolate arsenic concentrations from environmental samples and estimate arsenic concentrations by census tract in the two counties. Data on birth weight, child and maternal demographic information, and residential location data for three years (2005, 2010, and 2015) were used to assess temporal differences. Generalized linear models were used to analyze and compare the association between child and maternal demographic information, socioeconomic characteristics of the population, and the environmental estimates of arsenic to low birth weight occurrence. Our findings showed no significant association was found between environmental arsenic concentration and low birth weight. Associations with low birth weight were noted for smoking, preterm births, and low maternal education. For the final aim, arsenic concentrations of toenails collected from residents in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties were used to assess the relationship between arsenic concentrations in toenail biomarkers and arsenic concentrations from their residential drinking water supply, along with data pertaining to demographics and occupational history, and daily arsenic intake collected from the same residents. Results showed that arsenic biomarker elevation was present in 17% of toenail samples, but the study was limited by its small sample size. Associations were noted between toenail biomarkers and multiple demographic, dietary, and recreation activities. The study blended social and environmental epidemiological techniques to answer public health and community concerns. The knowledge gained from this dissertation will be useful in helping to build the foundation for environmental surveillance studies focused on heavy metals and biomarkers.
Issue Date:2019-12-02
Rights Information:© 2019 Maya Scott
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

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