Arsenic poisoning in the Ganges delta


The contamination of groundwater by arsenic and the attend-ant human suffering in West Bengal, India, for a decade, and in Bangladesh for the past four years. From our analysis of thousands of samples of water and sediment, we have been able to test the course of events proposed by Nickson et al.8 to account for the poisoning of Bangladesh groundwater. We disagree with Nickson et al.‘s claim that arsenic concentrations in shallow (oxic) wells are mostly below 50 mug per litre. In our samples from Bangladesh (n=9,465), 59% of the 7,800 samples taken at known depth and containing arsenic at over arsenic 50 mug per litre were collected from depths of less than 30 m, and 67% of the 167 samples with arsenic concentrations above 1,000 mug per litre were collected from wells between 11 and 15.8 m deep.



What is arsenic poisoning? What is arsenicosis?

Arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis is a condition caused by the ingestion, absorption or inhalation of dangerous levels of arsenic. Arsenic is a natural semi-metallic chemical that is found all over the world in groundwater.

In some areas of the world, natural levels of arsenic in the water are extremely dangerous and hard to detect; arsenic typically has no flavor or odor. Arsenic can also be found in some industries, whether it be contained within a chemical used, or the byproduct of a certain process.

Arsenic poisoning can cause major health complications if not treated, including death. Because of the risks involved, some precautions are required to protect the populations and workers at risk of arsenic poisoning.

Arsenic has proven to be potentially useful in cancer treatment, as some studies have shown it can send the disease into remission and help thin the blood. This treatment is still being tested, but could show some promise in the ongoing battle against cancer.

According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary, Arsenis (As) is:

“1. A metallic element, atomic no. 33, atomic wt. 74.92159; forms a number of poisonous compounds, some of which are used in medicine.

2. Denoting the element arsenic or one of its compounds, especially arsenic acid.”


Arsenic poisoning in the world 



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