Thyroid hormones and neurobehavioral functions among adolescents chronically exposed to groundwater with geogenic arsenic in Bangladesh

Khalid M. Khan, Faruque Parvez, R. Thomas Zoeller, Barbara A. Hocevar, Lisa M. Kamendulis, Diane Rohlman, Mahbubul Eunus, Joseph Graziano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Groundwater, the major source of drinking water in Bengal Delta Plain, is contaminated with geogenic arsenic (As)enrichment affecting millions of people. Children exposed to tubewell water containing As may be associated with thyroid dysfunction, which in turn may impact neurodevelopmental outcomes. However, data to support such relationship is sparse. The purpose of this study was to examine if chronic water As (WAs)from Holocene alluvial aquifers in this region was associated with serum thyroid hormone (TH)and if TH biomarkers were related to neurobehavioral (NB)performance in a group of adolescents. A sample of 32 healthy adolescents were randomly drawn from a child cohort in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS)in Araihazar, Bangladesh. Half of these participants were consistently exposed to low WAs (<10 μg/L)and the remaining half had high WAs exposure (≥10 μg/L)since birth. Measurements included serum total triiodothyronine (tT 3 ), free thyroxine (fT 4 ), thyrotropin (TSH)and thyroperoxidase antibodies (TPOAb); concurrent WAs and urinary arsenic (UAs); and adolescents' NB performance. WAs and UAs were positively and significantly correlated with TPOAb but were not correlated with TSH, tT 3 and fT 4 . After accounting for covariates, both WAs and UAs demonstrated positive but non-significant relationships with TSH and TPOAb and negative but non-significant relationships with tT 3 and fT 4 . TPOAb was significantly associated with reduced NB performance indicated by positive associations with latencies in simple reaction time (b = 82.58; p < 0.001)and symbol digit (b = 276.85; p = 0.005)tests. TSH was significantly and negatively associated with match-to-sample correct count (b = −0.95; p = 0.05). Overall, we did not observe significant associations between arsenic exposure and TH biomarkers although the relationships were in the expected directions. We observed TH biomarkers to be related to reduced NB performance as hypothesized. Our study indicated a possible mechanism of As-induced neurotoxicity, which requires further investigations for confirmatory findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Arsenic in aquifer
  • Drinking water arsenic
  • Mechanism of neurotoxicity
  • Thyroid biomarkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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