Arsenic in Inner Mongolia

Arsenic contamination of drinking water has been found in several areas, notably in the plains of the Yellow River, west of the capital of Hohhot.

Dermatological symptoms, and skin and other cancers were reported from three villages (Tie Men Geng, Zhi Jhi Liang and Hei He) of Inner Mongolia by Dr. Luo Zhengdong, Director of the Hohhot Sanitation and Anti-Epidemic Station, Dr Zhang Yu-Min and other collaborators. An initial description of their work is provided in several papers (in Chinese).

The Inner Mongolia Collaborative Project (IMCAP) was started in 1994 to help the people of Mongolia  understand, analyze, and extend their data and bring them to public attention. The principals of this group consist of Professor He Xingzhouu of the Institute of Environmental Health and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in Beijing, Dr. Steven Lamm, M.D., Consultants in Epidemiology and Occupational Health (CEOH) in Washington, D.C., Dr Steven Tucker, M.D., University of Texas, Austin, TX, Dr. Lai Shenghan M.D., Medical School, University of Miami, Miami, FL., Dr. Dan Byrd, Consulting Toxicologist in Washington D.C. and Dr. Richard Wilson from Harvard University.

  1. The three villages being studied by the Huhhot anti epidemic & Sanitation station (with the help of IMCAP) are 100 km WSW of Huhhot on the plain  between  the Yellow River and the Daching mountains as shown on the two maps found here in large scale and small scale .

A detailed description of this work has (at last) been made available by Tucker et al  in a report to ASTDR in 2001   "Relationship between Consumption of Arsenic-Contaminated Well Water and Skin Disorders in Huhhot, Inner Mongolia"

The work was first reported in Chinese in the following papers:

Luo Zhendong, Zhang Yumin, Ma Liang, et al. (1993) "Epidemiological Survey of Chronic Arsenic poisoning at Tie Mengeng and Zhi Jiliang villages in Inner Mongolia" Chinese Public Health 9(8), 347-348

Luo Zhendong, et al. (1993) "Epidemiological survey on chronic arsenic poisoning in Inner Mongolia",Journal of Endemic Disease Inner Mongolia, 18,(1),4-6

Fan Chengwan, Naren Gaowa, Zhang Yumin, et al. (1993) "Analysis for arsenical water and approach for reason of rich arsenic in Westen Huhhot Basin" Environment and Health, 10(2), 56-8

Zhang Yumin, Ma Liang, Luo Zhendong, et al. (1994) "Water quality analysis of arsenic-enriched groundwater in the large area of Western Huhhot Basin" Rural Eco-Environment 10(1), 59-61

A joint analysis of some of the work was presented at the first International Arsenic Conference in San Diego, 1995.

Luo Zhendong et al.  "Chronic Arsenicism and Cancer in Inner Mongolia: consequences of well-water arsenic levels greater than 50 ug/l"  In Arsenic: Exposure and Health Effects, Eds. C.O.Abernathy, R.L.Calderon and W.R Chappell,  Chapman and Hall, London pp. 55-68, (1997)  The Figures for the above paper are available HERE

A report is in preparation on a  dose-response for the skin lesions with outcomes and doses recorded individually.  A preliminary report was presented at the meeting in Athens in September 1999 and showed threshold behavior.

        In addition, another group in Inner Mongolia, Dr. Ma Heng-Zhi of the Institute for Endemic Disease Prevention and Treatment and collaborators in Huhhot are studying the effects in the Bamen region with an area of 300 km x 20 km ( NW of Huhhot) in Tumet region with an area 40 km x 20 km (SW of Huhhot) and in 2 villages at Keqi, 100 km NE of Huhhot. The first report of this work was at the Third International Conference on Arsenic in San Diego, July 1988.   Another report of this group by Dr Guo is reproduced here.

Also, a Japanese group (Yamauchi et al. of the Department of Preventive Medicine St Marianna University School of Medicine, Kawaskai Japan, assisted by Dr Sun Guifan, Department of Occupational Medicine, China University School of Medicine, Shen-Yang, China) has made a small study of metabolic processes in 36 arsenic-poisoned individiuals from villages in the Wu-yuan region of Inner Mongolia.