Risk assessment for arsenic, in low concentrations, for agricultural workers in Cartago, Costa Rica

Risk assessment for arsenic, in low concentrations, for agricultural workers in Cartago, Costa Rica





Disease burden, water quality, DALY, environmental health, occupational health


Introduction: Arsenic, an element that can be harmful to human health, is abundant in the environment. It was among the first substances recognized as carcinogenic, and its presence in water is common in Latin America. Its levels in water sources are relevant for decision-making and sanitary control. This study is the first in Latin America with a mathematical model of the risk and burden of disease. Objective: To evaluate the exposure to low levels of arsenic in agricultural workers in a Costa Rican basin with this new technique. Methods: We sampled arsenic in three points along the Purires River, Cartago, between September 2011 and August 2012. We used “censored value” estimates; risk assessment with quadratic exponential models and Monte Carlo simulations to determine the risk of cancer, for agricultural workers, by type and route of exposure during irrigation. Results: Concentrations did not differ by site, but were higher in the dry season. The risk level and burden of disease were not acceptable. Disease burden is a more rigorous indicator than the individual calculation of probability of occurrence. Our estimated risk level is low compared to other studies outside the region, but not comparable to previous work in Latin America, which used a different method. Conclusion: A decade ago, in the Purires basin, arsenic concentrations were higher in the dry season and the risk level and burden of disease were not acceptable.


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How to Cite

Morales Mora, E., Barrantes Jiménez, K., Beita Sandí, W., & Chacón Jiménez, L. (2022). Risk assessment for arsenic, in low concentrations, for agricultural workers in Cartago, Costa Rica. UNED Research Journal, 14(2), e4070. https://doi.org/10.22458/urj.v14i2.4070



Case study