Groundwater: Arsenic Contamination

Authored by: Abhijit Das , Bhaskar Das , Subhas Chandra Mukherjee , Shyamapada Pati , Rathindra Nath Dutta , Khitish Chandra Saha , Quazi Quamruzzaman , Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman , Tarit Roy Chowdhury , Dipankar Chakraborti

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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On the basis of our survey and analysis of arsenic in the hand tube wells (N = 250,000) from the Ganga–Meghna–Brahmaputra (GMB) Plain (area, 569,749 km2; population, >500 million) over the last 23 years, we revealed that some portions of all the states in Ganga–Brahmaputra plains in India and 59 out of a total of 64 districts in Bangladesh are arsenic affected. The source of arsenic is geogenic. The Himalaya and Tibet Plateau is considered to be the arsenic source. The exact nature of mobilization process from the source in groundwater is still unknown. On an average, 50% of the water samples had arsenic above the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline value of 10 μg/L. Around 100 million people in the GMB Plain are potentially at risk. Screening 155,000 people from the affected villages, 16,000 patients were registered with different types of arsenical skin lesions. Arsenic neuropathy and adverse pregnancy outcomes have been recorded. Biological sample analysis revealed that many are subclinically affected in arsenic-affected villages. Infants and children drinking arsenic-contaminated water are at high risk. Arsenic has already entered into the food chain. Arsenic poisoning in villages of West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh are causing socioeconomic problems, considered to be the biggest curse. In most of the arsenic-affected Asian countries, we have huge surface water resources of freshwater such as rivers, wetland, flooded river basin, and oxbow lakes. To get arsenic-safe water, the crisis is not over water scarcity but about managing the available water resources.

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