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Arsenicism by Chronic Exposure to Mine Tailings in Peru: An Analysis of 17 Cases with Lesions on Skin and/or Annexes.

Objective: To characterize the epidemiology and clinical manifestations of arsenicism from chronic exposure to mine tailings in people with lesions on their skin and/or annexes in two mining districts in the highlands of Peru.

Materials and Methods: In this case series study, we included 17 people that presented arsenical lesions in skin and annexes which were identified in two prior studies. We evaluated age, occupation, place of exposure, time of exposure, time of disease, manifestations on skin and annexes, location of lesions, severity, and 24-hour urine clearance of arsenic.

Results: The average time of exposure was 16.5 ± 14.7 years, and the average length of disease was 9.8 ± 8.1 years. In this study, 70.6% were men, 41.2% were farmers and 17.6% were underage. The most frequent main manifestations in skin and annexes were plantar keratosis (23.5%), palmar (11.8%), palmoplantar (11.8%) and thoracic keratosis (5.9%). Other manifestations were palmoplantar keratosis with thoracic hyperpigmentation (17.6%), Mees' lines (17.6%) and hyper/hypopigmentation in thorax and back (11.8%). With relation to the severity of lesions, 35.3% were grade 1 (mild), 29.4 % were grade 0 (asymptomatic), 29.4 % were grade 2 (moderate), and 5.9% were grade 3 (severe). The median of 24-hour urine clearance of arsenic was 55 μg/L/24 hours. No cases of skin cancer were presented.

Conclusion: The studied cases of arsenicism with lesions on skin and/or annexes by exposure to mine tailings present with differential characteristics in comparison to other forms of arsenicism such as less severity, lower urine clearance of arsenic, and absence of skin cancer cases.

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