The Arsenic Crisis
An environmental health disaster is unfolding
in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Tens of millions of persons in many districts
are drinking ground water with arsenic concentrations far above acceptable
levels. Thousands of people have already been diagnosed with poisoning
symptoms, even though much of the at-risk population has not yet been assessed
for arsenic-related health problems.
Over the last two decades in Bengal,
untreated tube well water was heavily promoted and developed as a safe
and environmentally acceptable alternative to microbiologically unsafe
untreated surface water. In the 1980s, scientists began finding evidence
of arsenic contamination, but only very recently (mid-1990s) has the crisis
emerged into broad public awareness. The origin of the arsenic pollution
is geological in this case - the arsenic is released to groundwater
under naturally occurring aquifer conditions.
"Analyses based on 18,417 (4,125 lab) aggregated
by union. The surface estimated based on the union-wise probability
assigned to the centroid of each union. Calculation by IDW using a fixed
radius of 7.5 km, a 1.5 km grid, and 3.125 union data points."
version of Fig.
1, Arsenic in groundwater: testing pollution mechanisms for sedimentary
aquifers in Bangladesh. J.M. McArthur, P. Ravenscroft, S.
Safiullah and M.F. Thirlwall. Water Resources Research, in press. ©
J.M. McArthur. View
the paper at the London Arsenic Group website.
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Arsenic Crisis News
Arsenic Crisis News is the largest email newsletter and
discussion group dedicated to the Bengal arsenic crisis and related situations
worldwide. ACN currently has 1100+ subscribers in 30+ countries around the
Topics covered include:
Arsenic geochemistry, geohydrology, measurement & analysis techniques, etc.
- Alternative water supplies & water treatment
- Epidemiology, disease mechanisms, symptoms, treatments