National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)

Arsenic Exposure and Childhood CancerA Systematic Review of the Literature


The literature on environmental arsenic exposure and childhood cancer risk comprises 1) studies seeking childhood cancers among arsenic-exposed populations, 2) studies seeking arsenic exposure among childhood cancer cases, and 3) studies seeking associations in populations with both arsenic exposures and childhood cancer cases. No skin cancers were found in dermal examinations of over 25,000 children in Southwest Taiwan or West Bengal, India, with high drinking-water arsenic levels. Childhood cancer types were not different for those living near a Swedish smelter. In Montreal, Canada, children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia did not have drinking-water arsenic more frequently either prenatal or postnatal, and British children with cancer did not have early exposure to environmental sources of airborne arsenic. Neither hair arsenic levels in Woburn, Massachusetts, nor water arsenic levels in Fallon, Nevada, were elevated for children with leukemia. The literature, while limited, does not seem to support an association between arsenic exposure and childhood cancers.

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