Iquitos Water and Soil Toxin Analysis

 Iquitos water and soil toxin analysis & correlating disease incidence/prevalence project


This upcoming August 2013 medical students from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) will participate in the college’s annual medical service elective to Peru.  This year the clinic center will be hosted at Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and the capital of theLoreto Region and Mayanas Province.  With its 457,865 inhabitants this city is considered the 6th largest in Peru.  The city is not directly accessible by main roads and can be reached only by airplane or boat, making it difficult for local inhabitants to access healthcare.

In 1880-1914 Iquitos was highly involved with the rubber boom industry; we would like to investigate if there are lingering contaminants and subsequent long-lasting effects on the populace.  There have been several studies performed that have investigated chemical exposures in the synthetic rubber industry and worker morbidity/mortality.  Primary toxins studied were butadiene, styrene, and dimethyldithiocarbamate (DMDTC).  During our medical clinic we would like to test for the presence of these toxins and analyze other possible contaminants of local water and soil sources to see if there are any correlations between toxin levels and the overall health of residents from the towns bordering the Iquitos region.

Medical records may be lacking in the region since there are no health posts or local hospitals.  Thus, we will be trending the common health complaints of those patients seen in our Iquitos clinic and compare their symptoms to our toxin findings.  In order to establish a base reference for the types and prevalence of the common diseases in the area we will be analyzing medical record data gathered from last year’s 2012 Peru medical mission.  We hope to survey around 2000 patients from the Iquitos region to gather data regarding disease incidence and prevalence.


IF we establish that there is a different pattern of disease incidence and prevalence in the Iquitos region compared to the established Peru baseline morbidity patterns, THEN we may conclude a possible correlation between types of toxin found and the overall health of the Iquitos populace.


We are essentially trying to determine:

1)      1)  If any hazardous levels of chemical toxins found in the local Iquito water/soil

2)      2)  If there are any trends in disease incidence/prevalence that may correlate with environmental toxin exposure

Students participating in this research project:

Nicholas Shih

Claire Aubrey

Susan Jarosz

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