Swedish researchers have now found that women in four mountain villages in Argentinean Andes Mountains ingest so much lithium via the groundwater that this could affect thyroid function, causing so-called hypothyroidism. This is a metabolic disorder which gives rise to weight gain, fatigue, depression, sensitivity to cold and memory loss.
That the thyroid can be affected and that the kidneys in rare cases can be damaged are known side-effects of medication with lithium. Female patients who become pregnant are also advised against taking medicine containing lithium, as the substance can affect the foetus.
“The amounts of lithium that the Latin American women are ingesting via their drinking water are perhaps a tenth of what a patient would take daily for bipolar disorder. But, on the other hand, they are absorbing this lithium all their lives, even from before birth”, says occupational and environmental physician Karin Broberg from Lund University in Sweden.
“What this implies for their health, we don’t really know in practice. That is why we are planning a new study which will compare the health of two groups of mothers and children: respectively, the ones with the highest and lowest levels of lithium in their blood.”
The Andes Mountains are rich in elements, to which the large copper mines in Chile and Peru, among others, bear witness. In several countries, lithium is also extracted, and Bolivia has enormous lithium reserves in its large salt desert, Salar de Uyuni. However the elements in the ground are not just a resource but also an environmental risk.
In an earlier study in which Karin Broberg took part, involving the same mountain villages in the Salta province in Northwest Argentina, high levels of arsenic, lithium, cesium, rubidium and boron were found in the drinking water and in the urine of the women studied.
“Lifelong ingestion of arsenic and lithium brings a clear health risk. What the ingestion of the other substances implies is not known, because there is very little research on their role in ordinary drinking water,” she says.
The researchers have carried out their studies with a technique called mass spectrometry. With older techniques it has only been possible to analyse one substance at a time in a water sample for example, but through refinement of mass spectrometry scientists are now able to measure the content of a long list of substances at the same time. That is why Karin Broberg thinks the technique should be widely used to analyse people’s drinking water.
“Groundwater has in many places been considered better to drink than the often polluted water from lakes and rivers. But in Bangladesh this has caused enormous health problems, when it turned out that the water from drilled wells contained arsenic. Very little is known about the concentration of lithium and other potentially dangerous substances in the groundwater around the world, so this should also be measured,” she believes.
Karin Broberg can be reached by tel +46-46 17 38 19 or +46-73 78 237 50, email@example.com.Weitere Informationen:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20701280 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20701280 Link to a summary of an earlier study on the PubMed.gov website
Megan Grindlay | idw
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences