ARSENIC IN GROUNDWATER AND HEALTH PROBLEMS IN BANGLADESH

Md. Masud Karim
Consulting Engineer, Dainichi Consultant Incorporated, 3-1-21 Yabuta Minami, Gifu 500, Japan.


SUMMARY

Arsenic is listed as a hazardous material and is a suspect carcinogen, reportedly responsible for lung and skin cancers. It is also a teratogen that means, it is capable of crossing the placental membrane and into the metabolic system of unborn children. The level of arsenic allowed in drinking water has been set by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 0.01 mg/l. However, the maximum permissible limit of arsenic in drinking water of Bangladesh is 0.05 mg/l. The actual toxicity of arsenic to human body varies depending on several factors as general health and diet. It is a cumulative substance, which slowly passes out of the body through the urine, hair, fingernails/toenails, and skin. In Bangladesh, most of the recognized stages of arsenic poisoning have been identified. The risk of arsenic poisoning in the southwestern Bangladesh is increasing. The number of patients seriously affected by arsenic in drinking water has now risen to 14201 1) demands extensive research in this field.

This paper addresses the contamination in groundwater in the form of tubewell water concentration, health-related problems, and data analysis on both the issues. Previous study 2) made by the author presents the subsurface occurrence of arsenic and the reason of contamination. The latest statistics available on the arsenic contamination in groundwater indicate that 31 districts around 38% of the total area of Bangladesh having 49 million people are at risk. Patients with melanosis, leuco-melanosis, keratosis, hyperkeratosis, dorsum, non-petting oedema, gangrene, skin cancer have been identified. The level of contamination is so severe enhance extensive awareness among the rural community, to the government bodies, and to international organizations.

Key words: Groundwater arsenic contamination; arsenic in Bangladesh; arsenic in urine, nails, hair, and skin.