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Arsenic exposure may make you more susceptible to H1N1 flu

Category: Environmental Toxin Testing

Low levels of arsenic exposure may reduce your ability to mount an immune response to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, according to researchers from the Marine Biological Laboratory and Dartmouth Medical School.

"One thing that did strike us, when we heard about the recent H1N1 outbreak, is Mexico has large areas of very high arsenic in their well water, including the areas where the flu first cropped up," said Joshua Hamilton, the MBL's chief academic and scientific officer.

Contaminated well water is a common source of high arsenic in the blood. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts the safe level of arsenic in drinking water at 10 parts per billion, Hamilton said concentrations of 100 and higher are not uncommon in well water in certain regions. People in areas with high arsenic in the drinking water usually have higher levels of arsenic present in testing.

The researchers found mice that had ingested water with concentrations of 100 parts per billion for five weeks got much sicker from swine flu as the arsenic disrupted the immune system and endocrine system response.ADNFCR-2248-ID-19182314-ADNFCR

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