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Scientists Link Influenza A(H1N1) Susceptibility to Common Levels of Arsenic Exposure

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posted on May, 26 2009 @ 08:51 PM
Infection Control Today

The ability to mount an immune response to influenza A (H1N1) infection is significantly compromised by a low level of arsenic exposure that commonly occurs through drinking contaminated well water, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Dartmouth Medical School have found.

"When a normal person or mouse is infected with the flu, they immediately develop an immune response," says Hamilton, in which immune cells rush to the lungs and produce chemicals that help fight the infection. However, in mice that had ingested 100 ppb (parts per billion) arsenic in their drinking water for five weeks, the immune response to H1N1 infection was initially feeble, and when a response finally did kick in days later, it was "too robust and too late," Hamilton says. "There was a massive infiltration of immune cells to the lungs and a massive inflammatory response, which led to bleeding and damage in the lung." Morbidity over the course of the infection was significantly higher for the arsenic-exposed animals than the normal animals.

Could this be responsible for the so called cytokine storm that killed so many in 1918?

"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. We don't know that the Mexicans who got the flu were drinking high levels of arsenic, but it's an intriguing notion that this may have contributed," Hamilton says.

Mexico has had the largest number of confirmed deaths while the ratio of confirmed cases to deaths is far less in the US.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers 10 ppb arsenic in drinking water "safe," yet concentrations of 100 ppb and higher are commonly found in well water in regions where arsenic is geologically abundant, including upper New England (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine), Florida, and large parts of the upper Midwest, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains, Hamilton says.

Being an Infection Control Nurse the implications are interesting to me. If this new data is the only reason for the immune response one could assume that this flu would not be as lethal in countries with higher technology as it would be in 3rd world countries. Of course, mutation could change everything.

The deaths in the US that I have read all said the patients had underlying problems (not knowing the underlying problem it may or may not have contributed to the death in my opinion).

As a conspiracy theorist how easy would it be to add a little arsenic to the water to accomplish population control?

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 09:50 PM
I really dont know much about this subject on a medical basis. I would only like to add that arsenic has been found in chemtrails.

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 10:35 PM
reply to post by sueloujo

I have never been a big believer in chemtrails tho I admit I have not studied it much. Your point is interesting though, however, I think if this were a problem with H1N1 it would have effected many more people.

posted on May, 28 2009 @ 02:16 PM
Arsenic is found not only in water, but also in food, through pesticides which are used in gardens, and in cigarettes. Chickens and pigs are given feed which contain unregulated amounts of arsenic. We then eat these same chickens and pigs.

To read more about this, click on the sources I listed in the "Swine Flu news and updates thread" here

More information about the link between H1N1 and arsenic can be found here.

Arsenic is also found in the air and in our soil, and there are other ways that some people are exposed to higher levels of arsenic. If you click here and then scroll down to the heading in bold called, "Exposure Pathways," you can read about other ways people are exposed to higher levels of arsenic.

Here's an interesting article: "How Much Arsenic is Fluoirdation Adding to the Water Supply?"

As I've been reading all these articles about exposure to arsenic, it makes me realize just how vulnerable we are. Not only has arsenic been shown to cause various health problems, but now it looks as if it may make us more susceptible to contracting swine flu. *sigh*

posted on May, 28 2009 @ 08:43 PM
reply to post by cornblossom

Thank you for the links Cornblossom. Most seem to contain the same info as mine but the last one was much more detailed regarding content in water.

I did note in my article and perhaps it was in yours as well, that arsenic is easily eliminated so watching the source of our food and water intake now may put us at less risk in the future.

posted on May, 29 2009 @ 01:14 PM
reply to post by liveandlearn
Arsenic in our soil apparently has a very long life.

The harmful chemical arsenic, once used to treat lumber, and now primarily used in pesticides, can make its way into the ground and linger for decades, turning clean soil into tainted dirt.
Source: Science Daily

So we're exposed to arsenic in the water that we drink. We plant our vegetables in soil which may be "tainted" with arsenic. If we water our plants with a hose, there's more arsenic added to mix. And that's not even the whole story on the various ways we're exposed to arsenic.

If arsenic exposure is indeed linked to us being susceptible to H1N1 as scientists have suggested, then it seems to me like the swine flu virus may flourish as the WHO predicts.

I wonder if scientists are looking at ferns and how they might use something in the ferns to make us less susceptible to H1N1. Ferns apparently have the ability to "soak up" arsenic from the soil.

Planting ferns can be a cheaper, greener way to soak up poisons such as arsenic from the soil. Ferns absorb arsenic through their roots and store it in their leaves, which can then be cut off.
Source: Science Daily

So in the long term, planting ferns might be a way to help rid our soil of arsenic, but I wonder if scientists might be able to use this information about how ferns soak up the arsenic and somehow translate that information into making a vaccine or medication which makes our bodies able to leach out arsenic we've absorbed and thus be more resistant to H1N1.

Well, my educational background is in psychology...not medicine/biology/ perhaps what I'm thinking about isn't even possible, but I do hope the scientists who've discovered the possible link between arsenic and H1N1 will be able to find a way to create a medicine/vaccine to help us be less resistant to the swine flu. In the long run though, we need stricter guidelines on use of arsenic.

posted on May, 29 2009 @ 01:52 PM
I wonder if Asians will be more susceptible to H1N1 because of the large quantities of rice they eat in their diet...rice which apparently contains more inorganic arsenic than rice grown in the U.S. which contains the "less dangerous" organic arsenic.

Here's a snippet I found in an article which was written a few days ago:

rice from the United States largely contains organic arsenic, which is less easily absorbed into the body and excreted more rapidly than inorganic arsenic. Rice contaminated with inorganic arsenic prevails in Asia and Europe.
Source: Science Daily

I wonder if there might be a link between the deaths of young people who die of H1N1 and rice contaminated with high levels of arsenic?

Amid recent reports of dangerous levels of arsenic being found in some baby rice products, scientists have found a protein in plants that could help to reduce the toxic content of crops grown in environments with high levels of this poisonous metal.
Source: Science Daily

It will also be interesting to learn if the countries with higher levels of arsenic in their water supply will have a higher numbers of people who are infected with H1N1. Which countries have higher levels of arsenic in their water?

According to the WHO, arsenic has been found approaching or above guideline limits in drinking water in Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Hungary, India, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, and the US.
Source: Science Daily

So far, here are the "Laboratory-confirmed cases of new influenza A(H1N1) as officially reported to WHO" as of today, May 29, 2009:

Argentina: 37
Australia: 147
Bangladesh: country not listed
Chile: 165
China: 30
Hungary: country not listed
India: 1
Mexico: 4,910
Peru: 31
Thailand: 2
U.S.: 7.927

Source for these statistics: World Health Organization

It looks like Australia could end up with quite a bit of its population infected with swine flu:

A health expert says 10 to 20 per cent of the Australian population could catch swine flu before a vaccine is available.

Anyway, while it may be too early to see a direct link between higher arsenic in water and susceptibility to H1N1, we may read about such a correlation later when scientists have had more time to research this.

posted on May, 29 2009 @ 09:28 PM
reply to post by cornblossom

Excellent information cornblossom. I recently planted fern in my yard and plan to plant more since I have so much shade. Coincidence?

Here is some info on the metabolism of different forms of arsenic

4.1 What happens to arsenic absorbed by the body?

The amount of arsenic absorbed into the body from inhaled airborne particles is highly dependent on two factors, the size of particles and their solubility. The size of the particles determines how far into the lungs they can penetrate – the further they penetrate the more likely arsenic is to be absorbed. The solubility of the particles in the fluid lining the lungs determines how easily arsenic will be absorbed into the blood stream.

In the gut, soluble arsenic compounds from food and beverages are rapidly and extensively absorbed into the blood stream. In humans and most common laboratory animals, inorganic arsenic is metabolized via two main types of reaction: (1) conversion of the pentavalent form of arsenic - arsenate - to the trivalent form - arsenite, and (2) methylation, i.e. addition of a methyl group comprising one atom of carbon and three of hydrogen (-CH3) to the trivalent form. After methylation arsenic can be rapidly eliminated from the body with the urine. There can be large differences between individual humans in their capacity for methylation that is most likely due to differences in enzyme capacity in the body. It is not clear if children have a reduced capacity for methylation compared with adults. Studies suggest that the main pathway for getting rid of arsenic from the body, methylation, may be inhibited at high exposures. The uptake and elimination of arsenic depends on its chemical form, particularly at high exposures.

For example, ingested organic arsenic compounds are much less extensively metabolized and more rapidly eliminated in urine than inorganic arsenic in both laboratory animals and humans. In the case of inorganic arsenic, the trivalent forms pass more rapidly into the tissues compared with the pentavalent forms.

4.2 What are the indicators of arsenic exposure?

The amounts of arsenic or its metabolites in blood, hair, nails and urine are used as indicators - biomarkers - of arsenic exposure. Blood arsenic is only useful for indicating either acute poisoning or repeated high-level exposures occurring over a long period. This is because arsenic rapidly disappears from blood.

Arsenic persists longer in hair and nails, which can, therefore, be used as indicators of past exposure. The concentration of arsenic, along a hair may be used to estimate the timing of an exposure.

The best estimate of recent exposure to inorganic arsenic is to measure it and its specific chemical metabolites in urine. However, consumption of certain seafood high in organic arsenic, such as seaweed or mollusks, produces one of the same metabolites as inorganic arsenic and may therefore exaggerate estimates of inorganic arsenic exposure in some people at certain times. Such foods should be avoided for 2–3 days before urine sampling.


Seems to me it is unlikely we can totally avoid arsenic. I did notice that the articles did not quantify what a 'low level' of arsenic was.

Now to determine what kinds of arsenic are are used for what and where are they found.

posted on May, 29 2009 @ 11:48 PM
reply to post by liveandlearn

Hi liveandlearn, That certainly is a coincidence that you planted a fern which can reduce arsenic absorption at a time when you've learned about the correlation between arsenic and this highly contagious virus!

Thanks so much for all the great information; that's very helpful to know.

You said in your reply, "I did notice that the articles did not quantify what a 'low level' of arsenic was. I don't know this for sure, but I wonder if a "low level" might be something close to the E.P.A.'s guidelines:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers 10 ppb arsenic in drinking water "safe," yet concentrations of 100 ppb and higher are commonly found in well water in regions where arsenic is geologically abundant, including upper New England (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine), Florida, and large parts of the Upper Midwest, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains, Hamilton says.

It might be lower than the E.P.A.'s guidelines, but as you noted, the article doesn't say so it does leave us wondering.

posted on May, 30 2009 @ 12:05 AM
reply to post by cornblossom

Just my guess but I would think it would be close to the 100 ppb. With water wells we are looking at something that is ingested daily and we don't know if the arsenic is organic or inorganic. This is not something that is routinely tested in humans.
Perhaps with the new information coming forth they will look at this more closely.

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 08:57 PM
Not that I try to make everything a conspiracy, but I read that most wells have traces of arsenic (naturally occurring). There's a lot of people that don't believe the bull crap that the ptb are dishing out and they're heading for the hills and trying to get off the grid. Seems like the ptb would be pretty happy about them being more susceptible to this flu because of well water.

posted on Jun, 9 2009 @ 09:30 PM
reply to post by liveandlearn

This does not surprise me at all. Exposure to any toxic material like arsenic, mercury, lead, etc, will reduce resistance to infection, and hinder recovery from illness. These toxins also reduce the brains ability to function on many levels. Real bad news gang.


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