Aim: To study the impacts on the development of intelligence and growth of children suffering fluorine and arsenic toxicity from pollution from burning coal.
Method: Areas suffering from significant morbidity and minor morbidity were selected for investigation from areas of southern Shaanxi Province suffering fluorine and arsenic toxicity from pollution from burning coal in 2011 and 2012. Areas not showing morbidity were selected as a control. Intelligence tests were conducted on school students 8–12 years old, and dental fluorosis and growth development were also tested. Differences in the development of intelligence and growth of the children between the various groups were analyzed. Urine samples were collected from children 8–12 years old, and the levels of urinary fluoride and urinary arsenic were determined.
Results: The median urinary fluoride levels for children 8–12 years old in the areas of significant, minor and no morbidity were, respectively, 1.96, 0.81 and 0.54 mg/L; the median urinary arsenic levels were, respectively, 0.023, 0.019 and 0.018 mg/L. The children’s intelligence quotients were, respectively, 101.22±15.97, 104.83±12.78 and 107.92±13.62. The height, body weight, chest circumference and lung capacity in the areas of significant, minor and no morbidity were compared, and these differences were of statistical significance (?2=36.549, 25.859, 28.021 and 45.627, all P<0.01). The height, body weight, chest circumference and lung capacity of children in the areas of significant and minor morbidity (136 cm, 31 kg, 64 cm, 1,432 ml; 137 cm, 30 kg, 65 cm, 1,433 ml) were all less than those for the area of no morbidity (141 cm, 34 kg, 67 cm, 1,660 ml; Z values were, respectively, -5.858, -4.151, -4.196, -4.500; -5.189, -3.240, -6.698, -4.008, all P<0.01), and the lung capacity of children in the areas of significant morbidity was less than those from the areas of minor morbidity (Z=-2.395, P<0.05). The children’s urinary fluoride and urinary arsenic levels versus intelligence [quotients] were both negatively correlated (r=-0.560, -0.353, all P<0.05).
Conclusion: Exposures to fluorine and arsenic are deleterious to the development of intelligence and the development of growth in children. We propose that stoves and furnaces be further upgraded to promote the healthy growth of children.