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Japan Inner Mongolia Arsenic Pollution (JIAMP) Study Group. Mental health burden amongst inhabitants of an arsenic-affected area in Inner Mongolia, China

Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Institute of Industrial Ecological Science, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, 1-1, Iseigaoka, Yahatanishiku, Kitakyush 807-8555, Japan.
Social Science & Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.56). 12/2004; 59(9):1969-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.02.031
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ABSTRACT Inner Mongolia, China, is an area with high levels of arsenic. The adverse health effects resulting from chronic arsenic exposure include skin keratosis, vascular diseases and cancers. However, the effects of arsenic exposure on mental health have not received much attention. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of arsenic poisoning on the mental health of the inhabitants of an arsenic-affected area. We performed a cross-sectional study at two villages in Hetao Plain, Inner Mongolia. The populations of both villages were similar in age, sex, lifestyle, socioeconomic conditions, and geographic location. One hundred and thirty four (93.7%) of the 143 inhabitants in the arsenic-affected village and 36 (76.6%) of the 47 inhabitants in the arsenic-free village participated in the study. Subjects with a 30-item version of General Health Questionnaire score of 9 or more were defined as having symptoms of distress. The multiple logistic analyses showed that the mental health of the subjects in the arsenic-affected village was worse than in those in the arsenic-free village (OR=2.5, 95% CI=1.1-6.0). The effect of arsenic on mental health in arsenic-affected areas deserves further investigation. The mental health burden in arsenic-affected areas should be considered in the wider context of public and community health.

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