Cognitive performance among cohorts of children exposed to a waste disposal site containing heavy metals in Chile

Soledad Burgos, Marcela Tenorio, Pamela Zapata, Dante D. Cáceres, José Klarian, Nancy Alvarez, Renato Oviedo, Rosario Toro-Campos, Luz Claudio, Verónica Iglesias*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Between 1984 and 1998, people living in Arica were involuntarily exposed to metal-containing waste stored in the urban area. The study aims to determine whether children who lived near the waste disposal site during early childhood experienced negative effects on their cognitive development. The cognitive performance was assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. The exposure variable was defined by the year of birth in three categories: (1) Pre-remediation (born before 1999); (2) During-remediation (born between 1999 and 2003); and (3) Post-remediation (born after 2003). In the crude analysis, a difference of 10 points in the IQ average was observed between the group born in the pre- (81.9 points) and post-remediation period (91.1 points). The difference between both groups was five times higher as compared to children of similar age and socioeconomic status in other cities of Chile. This result could be related with a period of high potential for exposure to this contaminated site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-125
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Health Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the Local Government Service of Public Health of Arica and Parinacota (SEREMI) [grant number 5602-168-LE11]; National Commission of Scientific and Technological Research (FONDECYT) [grant number 11121672]; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences under [grant number D43 ES 018745]. The authors would like to thank to the professionals of the Health Service and Regional Ministerial Secretariat (SEREMI) of Arica and Parinacota, Chile, who collaborated in the study. R. Arroyo from CEDETi for training the evaluators. To CEDETi for facilitating the use of WAIS-IV. To the team of interviewers consisted of N. Lafferte, C. Manriquez, Y. Rojas, A. Sep?lveda and evaluators G. Avenda?o, C. Chamorro, L. Isla y M. Morales. We extend our appreciation to the families who participated in this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Arsenic
  • children
  • heavy metals
  • intellectual quotient


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