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Our goal is to help these people
help themselves escape death.
By the people, for the people,
using simple, affordable methods.
About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis (September, 2010).


You can help by donating any amount:
One arsenic free well costs less than 100 EUR - just donate 1 EUR. Solidarity for the poor- Also for Recent Cyclone Disastor:

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PROJECT FILM


SOS ARSENIC POISONING IN BANGLADESH / INDIA.

THE WORLD’S POOREST POPULATION IN BANGLADESH, ARE SUFFERING FROM ARSENIC POISONING, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENT DEGRADATION  

  Flood 2007Flood 2007 Tragedy in the Himalays and Ganges-Brahmaputra Plain - Flood, drought, earthquake and cyclone


  • Bangladesh Cyclone- English
  • Cyclone Bangladesh - up date in bengali

  • Mitigation Update- the government has failed to manage properly

  • all my pain (MP3, 4.7 MByte) from Rabinranath Tagore

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,
    Where knowledge is free,
    Where the world has not broken up into fragments by narrow dogmatic walls,
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into lever widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake!
    Rabinranath Tagore

    " Hunger is exclusion from the land, from income, jobs, wages, life and citizenship. When a person gets to the point of not having anything to eat, it is because all the rest has been denied. This is a modern form of exile. It is death in life."
    -- Josue de Castro

    WARN OF A GREAT HIMALAYAN QUAKE

    ABSTRACT


    1,500 still missing in Bay

    Bangladesh one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, is beset by floods, tidal storms, famine and disease (outbreak of new disases such as malaria and dengu fever). Green revolution added many new diseases such as fungal Infection from irri rice blinds eyes.

    The arsenic hazard in Bangladesh villagers now appeared as a ‘real disaster', affecting thousands physically, physiologically, mentally and economically; it is intensifying malnutrition, poverty and destitution among the already poor villagers. The future of the Bangladesh villages are jeopardized (Prof. I. Zuberi, Rajshai University, Bangladesh, 6. 07. 03). Arsenic contaminated underground water is one such severe problem which the government has failed to manage properly. Five years after the approval of National Policy for Arsenic Mitigation and Implementation Plan, two lakh people still face the threat of cancer annually due to drinking of arsenic contaminated water in Bangladesh, says a report of World Health Organisation (WHO) (Daily Star, Nov. 13, 2009).

    UNICEF has come out with some dismal findings with regard to Bangladesh on the occasion of a high-level meeting. The successive governments failed to respond to the crisis with the promptitude the situation had called for. Arsenic is a ticking timebomb. (New Age, April 26, 2010 )

    Project AreaNow it is confronting the accidental poisoning of as many as 85 million of its 125 million people with arsenic-contaminated drinking water (The Independent, U.K., October 11, 2000). The scale of disaster in Bangladesh is beyond that of the accidents in Bhopal and Chernobyl (WHO, 2000). The epidemic of arsenic related cancer has just begun. The arsenic mitigation programme financed by the World Bank/donors is hopelessly subject to inefficiency, bureaucracy, corruption, lack of capacity, lack of capabilities, lack of professionalism, etc (Hoorens and Koender, Delft University, Netherlands, 1999) So far, no programme aid has reached the people.

    "Green Revolution" known as the"Fertiliser, Pesticide, Seed, Water" introduced by the North (Green Revolution) possibly contaminated ground water of Bangladesh and India (Anwar, Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh - End of A Civilization?, 2000).The diabolic situation of these two nations (Bangladesh and India) had not been the effects of overnight callousness and misconception. It was the effect of years of ignorance and negligence. The organizations responsible to set up tube wells in these two nations had not paid enough attention towards testing the underground water quality. During the 80 and 90, the foreign organization which tested the quality of tube well water in Bangladesh did not even conduct the tests for arsenic. The organization did not test for arsenic during the 1992 survey either. Ironically, in 1989, the same organization tested for arsenic in a London aquifer. This certainly points at their share of responsibility towards today ? situation. Professional negligence from aid-agencies towards developing countries was certainly not appreciable (Chakroborti, 2003).

    Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury yesterday blamed donor agencies for arsenic menace, a growing threat to the public health in the country.

    motia choudhury At the workshop, Matia came down heavily on the country's water management system and said the rivers of the country were killed over the years in the name of river training and all the governments are too responsible for it. The minister emphasised producing all varieties of rice to cut dependency on dry season boro rice that requires more underground water for the irrigation.

    It is possible to get good amount of aman rice on uplands if supplementary irrigation can be put in place, she said.

    The speakers emphasised using surface water for irrigation to reduce dependency on underground water. "Indiscriminate installation of shallow tube wells for irrigation caused desertification in one hand and increased the magnitude of arsenic on the other," she said (Daily Star, Wednesday, May 19, 2010).

    DHAKA, APR 22, 2013 (Independent): LGRD and Cooperative Minister Syed Ashraful Islam on Monday told the parliament that a more than acceptable level of arsenic has been found in 14.5 lakh tube wells out of 50 lakh. Lawmaker Nurul Islam BSC on behalf of Saifuzzaman Chowdhury placed the question and the minister said, “We have conducted arsenic test in 50 lakh tube wells in 271 upazilas. Of the tested tube wells, 29 per cent tube wells are extremely affected above 50 ppb (parts per billion).”

    The British Geological Survey reports(2001) even normal amounts(1-10mg/kg) of arsenic are sufficient to give excessive arsenic in the groundwater if dissolved or desorbed in sufficient quantity.

    But our studies show that farmers are adding arsenic 20- 30 mg/kg " arsenic and a very high amount of uranium" as fertiliser to soil two to three times a year (2-3 crops, mainly rice) since more than two decades possibly caused ground water contamination. We demand for a free treatment and migration of 1 million population of Bangladesh to industrial countries, who directed our agricultural poilicy and exported pesticides and fertiliser (Polluters Pay Principle).

    According to WHO study 62 districts is affected with arsenic, Daily Sun, March 30, 2014

    Some 80 million people are affected with some degree of arsenic contamination in Bangladesh. This monster silent killer is also spreading fast affecting more and more people with the passage of time making it an endemic health problem in the country. Most of the people depend on tube wells across the country for safe drinking water and this makes them vulnerable to the threat. Most of these tube wells are installed at about 120 feet deep below the surface where the arseno-pirates charged underground water level exists. As a result, people are naturally being affected silently by arsenic drinking water from these tube wells. Safe water from tube wells thus has turned to be a nightmare. People are being affected by painful skin diseases, cancer and gangrene due to long term intake of arsenic contaminated tube well water across the country.

    Studies suggest that unilateral withdrawal of water from the trans-boundary rivers is causing rivers and canals to die fast. In fact, the North and Southwest part of the country have now turned into a veritable desert. Due to the severe scarcity of water in the dry season the ground water level dropped sharply and that cannot be recharged sufficiently resulting in further drop of underground water level. Pumping out ground water for irrigation and other uses makes the situation worse further. Experts suggest that tube wells should be reset at 350 feet deep underground to avoid arsenic contaminated underground water level. For a sustainable solution to this problem, the government should put pressure on the neighboring country not to divert water from common rivers unilaterally. It should take initiatives to ensure proper treatment of arsenic related diseases and complications under one umbrella. A holistic effort needs to be initiated throughout the country to stop downward turn of underground water level. Mass awareness through anti-arsenic campaign should also be taken where the media - both print and wire - should play a dominant role. (Daily Sun, Editorial)

    Arsenic-laced water continues to spread serious diseases

    A number of serious diseases continue to affect people for intake of arsenic-contaminated water as they are still exposed to the naturally occurring chemical poisoning of groundwater, according to latest findings on the big public health problem. Drinking arsenic-contaminated water for a longer period causes skin pigmentation (Melanosis), skin ailments and painful lesions (Keratosis and Hyper Kertosis), which may lead to liver and kidney diseases, cardiovascular complications, diabetes, gangrene, cancers and peripheral diseases. Health experts expressed grave concern over the public health issue as arsenic causes many life-threatening diseases in human body.



    Dr. Muhammad Abdus Sabur, a noted public health expert, said according to the Directorate of Health Services, groundwater in 62 out of the country’s 64 districts is affected with arsenic.

    “Many people of those areas drink arsenic-contaminated water knowing or unknowingly for a long time, which causes various diseases. Many people are experiencing many side effects for taking such contaminated water,” Dr. Sabur added.

    “The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a comprehensive study found that the prevalence rate of arsenic both in drinking, cooking and irrigation water is about 60mg/1 in Bangladesh. The permissible limit of arsenic in drinking water is 0.05mg/1,” he informed. He urged the government to take pragmatic measures against arsenic poisoning to contain the spread of diseases due to arsenic contamination.

    Dr A K M Jafar Ullah, project director of arsenic mitigation programme under the Directorate of Health Services, said arsenic contamination of groundwater has been widely reported in Bangladesh since 1993. “In 1994, the then government constituted three national committees to control and mitigate arsenic pollution,” he said.

    “Some 2,875 people have died in the country from arsenic-borne diseases and another 120,000 people have been suffering from various arsenic-related infectious diseases, widely known as Arsenicosis, and gangrene,” Dr. Jafar informed. “Steps have already been taken in collaboration with the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) to sink tube-wells in high arsenic-containing areas across the country to help people access to safe water from alternative sources,” he said. Myriad tube-wells were once sunk across Bangladesh as a safe source of drinking water under Unicef prescription, but, in course of time, water in most of these pumps was found carrying high amounts of arsenic. These tube-wells are being replaced with deeper-set pumps that can pump water from safer layers of underground water (Daily Sun, 30-03-2014)

    First dug hole at Noakhali District May 2004cmpletion of a dug hole at Companiganj, Noakhali
    First dug hole at Companiganj, Noakhali District.

    Low Cost Shallow well: vs Contaminated Deep Well

    Low cost shallow well (green) with arsenic free sweet water close to the DPHE constructed deep tube well - saline and iron rich water at Noakhali- May 2004.
    Low cost shallow well (green) with arsenic free sweet water close to the DPHE constructed deep tube well (red) - saline and iron rich water at Noakhali- May 2004.

    Left deep tube well at 1200 feet by Swedish Aid through BRDB , Right a Shallow arsenic free well .
    Left deep tube well 12000 feet by Swedish Aid through BRDB water contains 80 Microgram arsenic and saline, Right a Shallow arsenic free well drilled at Tambulkhana, Faridpur, May 2004 by this project.

    To identify "stratigraphic trap of arsenic free water" (if present) within contaminated aquifers within deltaic deposits is the cheapest and easy alternative. Besides a simple, pragmatic arsenic mitigation project, is the "Sunlight Air Clay Pot Method," based on traditional wisdom and cultural festivals. "

    We have recently launched a pilot project in Faridpur. The message and activities on environment consciousness education, using traditional method to purify water, rainwater harvesting, to identify arsenic free water (shallow aquifer) within contaminated area,arsenic and bacteria free water and cultural gatherings addressing the rural population were immense. The principal objectives of the project are to introduce environmental consciousness education, cost-effective, efficient, user friendly and appropriate method of water purification, arsenic free water for the improvement of public health and overall protection of the environment : Final Project Report.

    This project is completely different from other Arsenic mitigation projects because villagers will produce clay pots, sand filters, microbial disposal etc. later distribute to other villagers and thus a rapid mitigation project can spread all over Bangladesh (Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Govt. of Bangladesh, 11June, 2000)." Since no one can earn enough money out of this project, donors and others are reluctant to finance it.

    The key element of BAMWSP (Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply, LGRD Ministry) policy is "consumers-pays principles", in other words villagers have to pay it. Our experiences show that most of the rural population are very poor and can hardly afford 1 US dollar for an additional expense.Even after several years mitigation activities by the NGOs or Government are almost absent. Government's inaction putting huge number of people at risk. Our heart goes out to Sumon, a fourteen year old boy who lost one of his legs at such a tender age due to drinking arsenic poisoned water. Our reporter, who has recently visited a small village in Noakhali, says that Sumon is not alone, there are hundreds of others awaiting a similar fate. In fact, estimates show that Bangladeshis exposed to high levels of arsenic vary from a low of 2835 million to as high as 77 million, more than half the country's population. The World Health Organisation describes the arsenic contamination of ground water as "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history." But we fail to understand why a comprehensive mitigation programme has not been achieved since almost all concerned have admitted that it is a serious threat to human lives (Editorial, The Daily Star, 22 June, 2003).

    The development partners. have pumped millions of dollars into various mitigation programme ever since dangerous level of poison in underground water was detected way back in 1993. More funds are reported to be pouring in but the question is are they reaching the people who have been most affected by this rapidly increasing menace around the country? Several NGOs have been given authority through the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), to offer low cost services to prevent diseases caused by arsenic poisoning from spreading. One such project for the 'poorest of the poor' requires a group of fifty to donate as much as Tk. 4,500 in advance to receive a safe tubewell. But the government seems to have forgotten that there are many 'poorest of the poor who would not be able to gather any money, least of all the required amount (The Daily Star, June 22, 2003). Up to 77 million Bangladeshis have been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from contaminated drinking water, and even low-level exposure to the poison is not risk-free, The Lancet medical journal reported (June 21, 2010).

    Water of poison creeps in as silent killer

    a gangrene patient, simon, noakhali sonali

    Our Project Report 2003. and Project Report 2004 show how a small amount can save thousands of life.

    The immediate alternatives are:

    • Deep tube wells in Southern Bangladesh, with special reference to saline water intrusion and improved drilling methods on a contaminated aquifer. "Arsenic free water trap" at shallow depths. Rain water harvesting. Dug wells, only when "shallow water trap" is not available. Low cost community based water purification units.
    • New and immediate agricultural policy - "Flood Water Irrigation".
    • Regain traditional wisdom.

      The people will invent more methods and survival strategies, if we really want to survive and refuse vested business interests of many western countries offering inadequate and expensive technologies. We need your help to make this extraordinary project a success. Every step of the project will be accompanied with on-line reports on this page, which will enhance your active participation.

      Old Faridpur Water Supply
      Faridpur Water Supply, almost a century old, reduces arsenic concentration from 220 µg/l to below required standard after sunlight/air oxidation and sedimentation. Three basins will be optimal, where iron sulphate coagulation will completely remove arsenic. Such simple and community based water supply units requires in Bangladesh. High tech and expensive foreign experts are not required.

    The villagers of Bangladesh sing:

    "We cook on one bank,

    We eat at another
    We have no homes,
    The whole world is our home,
    All men are our brothers
    We look for them
    In every door….."
    (Music and Lyric Jasim Uddin

    generation in danger- Noakhali Is there any future?

    Millions of poor earn their livelihood by rickshaw pulling and now their existence is threatened by ban.


    "I build a home for she/he
    Who has broken mine."

     Present day channel bar. Some ancient channel bars show arsenic free aquifer
    Present day channel bar. Some ancient channel
    bars show arsenic free aquifer.

    rain watera student, Khalilpur High school
    Rainwater harvesting. Environment Conscious Education.

    "The earth was not given to us by our parents, it was loaned to us by our children."

    irri 
    Rice - IRRI High Yield Producing Countries
       in River Plain faceing Arsenic Contamination and
    Fungal Infection From Boro Paddy Blinds Eyes

    First Dug Well in Noakhali district usining dirty pond water
    Historically first Dug well in Noakahali District May, 2004.
    People in Southern Bangladesh drinks or cooks organic and
    inorganic polluted pond water. Now, dug well is a new alternative.

    Flood 2004cyclone
    Tragedy in the Himalays and Ganges-Brahmaputra Plain -
    Flood, drought, earthquake and cyclone

    teracota-history of bengal
    Listen human brother
    There is no truth greater
    Than man himself.


    "Try to dissolve out of selfishness into a voice beyond those limits".
    Today we are looking for a tolerant civil society in cities seminars and
    workshops but these are rooted in:
    Traditional Social Dynamics in Bangladesh
    Liberal Sufism turned Begalis to change religion
    and
    Lalon - Bauls Mysticism
    Jatra, the traditional open-air  folk opera of Bangladesh



    village festivalcuktural heritage - Jatra








    Field after field run along
    Green winds sway tender paddy shoots
    That spreads like open hair
    In it butterflies ornamented with wings…
    Mother earth smiles at her fertile pride.
    In this harvest Asmanis (landless people) have no claim.
    As worn out ribs hold together their stomachs
    They burn with hunger.

    Forest after forest run along
    This fairyland of flowers and fruits….

    In this forest Asmanis (landless people) have no claim.
    They are hungry.

    River after river run along
    They flow through nameless wharfs…
    In this river the Asmanis (landless people) have no claim.
    Worn out ribs hold together their stomachs
    They are empty.

    (Source: Selected Poems of Jasim Uddin)

     

    Lalon Where lies this mystery of human soul?
    Where from I came and where shall I go?
    Lalon's answer:
    How does the strange bird
    flit in and out of the cage,
    If I could catch the bird
    I would put it under the fetters of my heart.
    The cage has eight cells and nine doors.
    With laten opening here and there,
    Above is the main Hall with a mirror chamber
    O my mind, you are enamoured of the cage....


         Lalon - Bauls Mysticism

    Air and Water pollution is a major cause of respiratory and stomach ailments and premature death in the city. The poor, particularly children and women, suffer most from the accelerating urban and rural environmental degradation. Dahaka is now world's most polluted city and the poor is balmed The World Bank for Withdraw of Rickshaw.project rickshaw





















    bangladesh
    kantanagar temple
    hasem khan



    Contents

    folk ballet- JatraGazi- ballet
    INTRODUCTION
       HISTORY OF BENGAL
    Rural Women's culture & Traditional Heritage
    Traditional Social Dynamics in Bangladesh

    Heritage and Traditional Handycrafts

    Natural Indigo and the unfinish Fight for Freedom

    cooking

    Bengali Cooking 
    Tragedy in Himalayas -Ganges Plain:
       Flood, Drought, Quake and Cyclone
    A near-famine situation the northern districts
    INDIA-BANGLADESH:
       21st Century Battle for
       WATER SHARING - New
    Dams/Barrages Relation to
       Recent Arsenic Poisoning
    GROUND WATER

    pyritearsenic
    Arsenic contamination

    Radioactive Mineral in Drinking Water of Bangladesh 

    Arsenic and Uranium in Fertilizer.  

    "Water for the Poorest"
        World Water Week
        Report 2008- Are we loseing Ground- New


    TOXIC EFFECT OF ARSENIC
    Arsenic in Food Chain
    Arsenic Carcinogen
    The poor suffers  
    Time for Action
    green revolution 
    ARSENIC A NATURAL ORIGIN?
    Source of Arsenic Poisoning- Anthropogenic- NEW
    Rice - IRRI High Yield Producing Countries
       in River Plain faceing Arsenic Contamination.
    ARSENIC REMOVAL PROGRAM

    filter pours poisonous waterpours poisonous water
    50 million people are affected in Bangladesh
    - Latest and more
    ARSENIC MITIGATION PROGRAM
    MITIGATION PROGRAM UPDATE- - NEW Edition
    Mitigation Program 2003
    DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

    The World Bank for Withdraw of Rickshaw
    'WB linked with fundamentalism’ August 21, 2005
    Swedish (SIDA) and US Aid
    Green Revolution
    Destruction of Sustainable Ecosystem
       for the finest kitchen of the Industrial Countries
    Natural forest: Threats from the
       World Bank, ADB, and IMF
    Export of Hazardous Waste
    Deadly Cargo - Nov. 2002
    Failure of Danish Aid
    An Incorrect Arsenic Map of Bangladesh 
    KumarRiver - The River of sorrow 
    Small is beautiful?

    protector of eclogyancient values
    ENVIRONMENT/ POLLUTION

    tumericneem
    HOME GARDEN
    NEWS AND ARTICLES
    BOOKS - WATER- Jasimuddin
    CRITICAL REPORT
    Project Reports: 

    traditional methods
    AN EASY ALTERNATIVE FOR RURAL POOR
       - IN FARIDPUR and COMPANIGANJ, Kabirhat
      NOAKHALI DISTRICTS, 2004-2010* NEW


     WOMEN PROJECT
    PROJECT REPORT August 2003
    OUR PROJECT REPORT June 2002
    FINAL PROJECT REPORT (Educational) - 2002
    LATEST REPORT -
    HOW CAN I HELP THE PROJECT
    LINKS

    CONTACT
    Travel Oppertunities to Project Cooperation
       info [a-t] sos-arsenic.net


    CARDMA
    (Coastal Area Resource
    Development and
    Management Association),
    Member Organisation of
    IUCN, World Union of
    Conservation

     

    tagore-einsteinTagore-Einstein











    Tagore Einstein Council,
    Vishva Bharati University,
    Santiniketan, W. Bengal, India.

    "Our world faces a crisis as yet unpreceived by
    those possesing power to make great decisions
    for good or evil..... a new type of thinking is
    essential if mankind is to survive."

    Einstein on Peace

    Pat and Patua important audio-visual mediums
    in educating the masses since immortal

    sattelit imageIndian sub-continent
    Indian Subcontinent
    The Bangal Basin
    captured migratory birds in bangladesh
    Migratory and other Birds
    in Bangladesh in Danger.

    Distribution of clay pot filter to arsenic patients
    Distribution of clay pot filters
    (made by the village potters) to
    arsenic patients.

    women's project






    Since July 2003 we have started
    women project
    at Betbaria, Ambikapur and Kazurdia, Faridpur

    Arsenic free tube well at Betbariaia
    We have identified (July 2003) a channel sand
    facies at Kazuri, Alipur (Ambikapur) in
    Faridpur. At Kuzurdia, Bedbaria and Kasnail
    most of the wells are arsenic contaminated
    but an ancient (about one thousand year old)
    mid channel sand show arsenic free aquifer.
    We have made Kuzurdia village arsenic
    free.It is strongly recommended to look for
    arsenic free aquifers. A sound knowledge
    on underground geology, hydrology allows to
    identify arsenic free aquifer at shallow depths.
    This is a very cheap and highly acceptable
    alternative. The absence of a distributed
    water supply in the rural parts of Bangladesh
    also significantly hinders all technological solutions
    to the problem.

    Traditional hand drilling for water

    But the Government or NGOs does not have
    any program.They drilled many expensive
    deep wells according to the recommendation by
    the British Geological Survey ("Available data shows
    that aquifers deeper than 150 - 200 m are essentially
    arsenic-free over much of Bangladesh" BGS, 2001)
    that pour poisonous water
    in Faridpur, Pabna, Khustia, Rajshahi districts.

    Green Revolution: Destruction of Biodiversity and Environment

    dug well constructed by ngo although tubewell (green) water is goodnow dug well filled with garbage
    MITIGATION UPDATE and LATEST REPORT.
    A dug well was constructed by NGO Forum
    in a place where As-concentration in tubewell water
    is below standard.

    Safe water is becoming scarce day by day due arsenic contamination and salinity in southern districts (March 24, 2005).

    Deep tubewell- arsenic contaminated

    Irrigation with arsenic contaminated
    deep well water (Comilla), contaminates
    food chain .

    Traditional surface water irrigation almost extinct
    surface water (arsenic free) irrigation?

    South Asia's ship graveyard ship-graveard at Chittagong
    South Asia's ship graveyard at Chittagong, where
    highly toxic waste is imported, thus
    poor countries
    become the toxic waste handlers for the rich.


    A Women Center has been opened at Ambikapur, Faridpur on March 14. 2004.
    A Women Center has been opened at Ambikapur, Faridpur on March 14. 2004.

    Our films, books, lectures and endless symposia are useful to a degree, but ultimately they miss the boat. They come from the city, and rarely filter down to the villages in crisis.
    What we need to see happening is a reversal -
    an ecological sensibility that starts at the village level

    The power elites and politics

    The world has now over 6 billion people. Of them, about 3 billion live in poverty and more than one billion of them live in extreme poverty. The majority poor people live in four regions including: South Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are the homes of millions of poor and most of them are extreme poor.

    As much as 24 percent of global diseases is caused by environmental exposures, much of which can be averted by well-targeted interventions, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report made public recently. The report also estimates that more than 33 percent of diseases in children under the age of 5 is caused by the environmental exposures. And preventing the environmental risks could save as many as four million lives a year in children alone, mostly in the developing countries like Bangladesh. The report titled "Preventing disease through healthy environments -- towards an estimate of the environmental burden of disease" assesses that more than 13 million deaths occur annually due to absence of preventable environmental causes. Of the global figure (13 million), nearly one-thirds of death and disease in the least developed regions occur due to environmental causes.



    poorThe tropical and subtropical regions are rich in natural and bio-resources. It implies that poor and marginal group of people in the planet have developed an interdependency relation with nature, where nature and ecosystems give the poor subsistence with food, fiber, water, medicine and fodder. The nature generates various livelihood support services for people for long time while the poor protects and conserve the nature. However, it is also blamed that poor also degrade nature, but they harm the nature for their mere subsistence only. But most cases the commercial interests of the rich backed by the power elites and politics enhance this process of over exploitation (The projects by the World Bank and developing partners benefit only the elites).
    The poor donot have adequate access to the available sources of drinking water and they have to suffer the most from lack of safe drinking water resulting in various water related diseases and ill-health.

    The urbanisation process is not successful and will pose ecological challenge. The cities are littered with slums, living conditions are terrible and pollution is so high that they pose open risks. The rich for skewing the ideals of globalisation, which he sees as a force but not sufficient enough to fight poverty. blames the rich for skewing the ideals of globalisation, which he sees as a force but not sufficient enough to fight poverty.

    Once the rich gave 0.8 per cent of their GNP in assistance which totalled $175 billion. Now, they give only $15 billion and with the gap, we could get schools, immunisation, AIDS prevention and water and sanitation for all the poor of the world. Globalisation is not a sufficient force when the poor countries face disease and poverty with no money. The rich also fall far short of giving access to trade to the poor. Now, the rich can blame the poor for corruption and mismanagement, and the poor can also blame the rich.

    The rich nations take the whole year for preparation, but the poor countries do not do their homework and lack a coherent voice. If countries like Brazil, Bangladesh, India which have over a billion in population raise their voice in unison, the rich will have to listen to them. We need a social change in our own country and also in the North.

    Climate and arsenic free water

    THE gathering of 4,000 residents of the district of Gaibandha — most of them farmers — on Tuesday, demanding compensation for damages caused by man-made climate change is significant as the issue now makes the transition from an academic cause to a political one. For a country that will bear the brunt of some of the worst fallouts of global warming and climate change, this issue has had a remarkably low currency among the ordinary citizenry, who are the most vulnerable. According to one estimate, Bangladesh stands to lose up to 17 per cent of its landmass by 2050 because of a one metre rise in the sea level. But even as such dramatic postulations are debated, large swathes of the country is now experiencing variations in rainfall, a higher intensity of floods and cyclones, as well as droughts, confounding the agricultural calendar and imperilling food security.

    With a key United Nations conference on climate change approaching in the first week of December, the farmers’ protests organised under the banner of the Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods are not only timely, but also the only relevant way of ensuring that the demands of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities are the focus of efforts to slow down the pace of carbon emissions.

    THE problem of arsenic in drinking water is snowballing with fateful consequences. Although the arsenic contamination in drinking water is near to being universalised, there is very little government effort visible to grapple with it. More and more areas are being reported as arsenic-affected. Vast areas in all the districts of the country except the greater CHT are affected. Last year a government source disclosed that 30 million people are exposed to arsenicosis and 50,000 are already afflicted. Numerous deaths have been reported from Pabna, one of the worst-hit districts. The situation in Chittagong is equally disturbing. According to an agency report carried in yesterday’s New Age, in Chittagong the level of arsenic in the water of some tube-wells is alarmingly high – 0.4 microgram per litre as against the permissible limit of 0.05. The study was conducted by the Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Engineers in 13 of the city’s 41 wards and found high contamination level in seven of those wards while in the remaining six wards too the level was higher than the prescribed WHO standard. Arsenic is also reportedly entering the food chain.

    Though the problem surfaced around 15 years ago, very little was done to make drinking water arsenic-free or to provide alternative sources of drinking water to the people. Arsenic poisoning acts slowly and full dimension of the peril will begin to unfold with time. What is particularly regrettable is that the successive governments should apparently adopt a policy of wait and see instead of coming out with a bold mitigating programme. Even the 22-member expert committee formed in 2004 to look into the problem is not holding its meetings regularly. The government and the NGOs did identify and red-mark some strongly contaminated tube-wells, and stopped there. No arrangement was made to provide alternative source of water. And the ‘safe’ tube-wells may not be safe for ever and periodic testing is necessary. The people themselves have no access to any testing facility. Tube-wells could be sunk deeper to obtain arsenic-free water. This is expensive and can be done at community-level. It is true there is no quick-fix solution to arsenic but there is a variety of mitigating techniques which can be implemented according to local conditions.

    Some home-made filtration systems have been devised which are low-cost. But due to absence of official drive few affected households are presumably using these devices. Critics feel that the government is allowing the problem to drift in order to create a justification for corporatisation of drinking water. This will not only penalise the poor in yet another way but also increase the country’s dependency in another vita sector.(Editorial, Daily Newage, November 8, 2008)

    Mitigation


    Mitigation programme by the responsible LGRD Ministry failed to supply arsenic free water by deep tube wells, Pond Sand Filters (PSF) or by Tubewell Sand Filter (TSF) - 2006
    pond sand filter, Mazdi, Noaakhal TSF- Frid, arsenic water

    Arsenic-free country still a far cry

    Though many initiatives are underway to address arsenic problems but most of the people in rural Bangladesh are yet to be freed from the risk of arsenic poisoning since they are still bound to drink arsenic contaminated water.

    Thousands of people in different districts in the country have been passing their days with great threat of arsenic, a major environment problem. Contamination by arsenic of the ground water in parts of the country and its fall out has proved to be a deadly health hazard threatening the lives of millions of people.

    The scenario of arsenic contamination in Pabna district is worst than that of other affected parts of the country. All most all the upazila in the district are within the grip of arsenicosis problem. Eight out of nine unions of Bera upazila of the district still under the risks of a major arsenic health hazards. Nearly one lakh fifty thousand people out of two lakh and 17 people in the upazila are still taking arsenic contaminated drinking water (The New Nation, February 18, 2009).

  • Daily Ittefaque on NGOs depriving the poor in the name of Arsenic mitigation -March 8, 2009 (in Begali)

  • Arsenic accumulation from rice and meat -in Bengali, Daily Ittefaque, May 16, 2009

    /worldvision dug well failedFailed deep tubewell at Tambulkhana by LGRD

    (Left) World Vision failed to supply arsenic free water at Vashan Char or everywhere in faridpur District,but we set (2006) arsenic free well.
    Deep tube well at Tambulkhana, Faridpur As 120µg/l and saline (rejected water), we put an arsenic free well a fraction of the cost of the LGRD Ministry

    More than 90 percent of the people of Bangladesh are drinking groundwater but this water was always called the “Devil’s Water” by villagers and when tubewells were sunk in many districts, villagers left their villages crying out “the Devil’s Water” is coming, the “Devil’s Water” is coming. But this was quickly brushed aside as superstition. But today people ask - was it just superstition – because hundreds of thousands of people are now suffering from arsenicosis.

    Today with an estimated 12-million tubewells in Bangladesh alone, many of which have levels of arsenic in the water above the World Health Organisation’s Safe Guideline recommendations, many people, even today, are drinking poisoned water, often because of ignorance, or apathy but also because they have no alternative. But with no known cure and the best treatment on offer – to drink arsenic-free water and eat a good nutritional diet – this for millions of villagers are still out of reach. We subsequently had to spend millions of dollars for testing tubewells for arsenic – which was a waste of money and time because these kits proved to be useless. Even the World Health Organisation and UNICEF no longer use them.

    But the worst seems to be in the Ganga Plain where the population of about 500-million risk their lives by drinking contaminated water. Although that does not mean that all will suffer, or all will continue to drink the water, but they are at risk. The problem is that even after more than fifteen years we are still in the dark and do not know just how big the problem really is. Meanwhile people fall sick and die.

    Women are the worst victims of ostracism. Women in Bangladesh have o take the main responsibilities to perform domestic roles. They are doubly vulnerable both because of the disease itself and by being treated as outcasts. Due to the socio cultural position of women in society, unmarried women and women abandoned by their husbands and families live inhumanly. In our patriarchal society, women are the worst sufferers of arsenicosis. It is evident from a study that women suffering from arsenicosis are subject to domestic violence such as dowry (41.7%), divorce (16.7%), separation (16.7%), desertion (8.3%), physical torture (8.3%) and ploy (8.3%).


    Source: The Bangladesh Observer, June 11, 2006

    Countless editorials and reports have been published on arsenic contamination but we all know that as far as concrete results are concerned, our achievements have not been overwhelming. In fact, a recent report bares all the facts before us and we know that in the last three years 36 persons have died, 38,500 are affected and about 7 crore people face a direct threat. So far, around 50 lakh tube-wells have been checked and of them, 14 lakh, a staggering number, have been identified to contain arsenic. Already, arsenic contamination has taken a deadly form in 9 thousand villages with 80 to 100 per cent contamination and if the present move aimed at mitigation is not geared up then arsenic will continue to kill and deform(New Age, 19. 05. 06). Mon, 8 May 2006, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan on Monday said care and conservation of water is a matter of national security and that access to safe drinking water is essential for survival. The LGRD Minister said the government has formulated National Water Management Plan to ensure proper use of water.

    lgrd minister mr. mannan bhuaynARSENIC risk has fast spread over the country in last few years. The current risk has spread over 80 million people. LGRD Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiya last Sunday informed the national parliament about the matter (Mon, 14 Jun 2004). In the mid-90s it was 50 million and now even before the passage of a decade it has affected 60 per cent people of the whole country. The minister, however, did not say in how many years the number has risen to 80 million from 50. He is, of course, optimistic about the situation when he says," the risk was not alarming". The government is responsive to the situation, no doubt. It has approved a plan regarding arsenic contamination called, "Bangladesh Arsenic Policy 2004". It has approved another plan called, "Arsenic Mitigation Plan." Though the minister has not mentioned any point or points of the arsenic policy and the plan but he briefly mentioned about the steps taken by the government. The steps of the government include training up doctors and supply of safe drinking water to the people of the affected areas.

    He said that as many as 14 ongoing projects were under implementation in the arsenic affected areas across the country to address the threats. These projects include the GoB-4 Project under the Public Health Engineering Directorate, the GoB-UNICEF Project, Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply Project and DANIDA Water Supply Project. The Minister said, the government had approved the "Bangladesh Arsenic Policy 2004" and the " (Arsenic) Mitigation Plan". These measures will help solve the problem easily in a coordinated manner. Safe drinking waters is being supplied to people of the affected areas in the country on the basis of these policies, he added. LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan on Monday said care and conservation of water is a matter of national security and that access to safe drinking water is essential for survival.

    Repeated appeals by local people for safe drinking water have fallen on deaf ears. The administration claims arsenic contamination has been reduced to a large extent but this is evidently wrong.

    We invited LGRD Minister to visit arsenic prone areas of Faridpur (March 2006). First, he promised to visit the area but he has more important works to do! He refused to visit project area .

    MORE WORDS, LESS WORK ON ARSENIC MITIGATION

    At present it seems that the Donors especially WB are very anxious about the poverty of Bangladesh. Now a days Donors no longer give grants or untied aids. Most of the loans coming from WB is either for a particular project or based on one or another certain strategic policy framework such as SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme). SAP has miserably failed not only in Bangladesh but also in many countries of Asia and Africa.
    Arsenic Mitigation Program of the government is mainly financed by the World Bank.

    LOCAL Government, Rural Development (LGRD) and Co-operatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan was commendably candid about words surpassing deeds in terms of mitigating the arsenic challenge. He recognised failures "in providing proper treatment to victims of arsenic contamination" and concluded that there had been "more words on the arsenic problem than action". Such a portrayal of real picture, one hopes, will be followed up by sustained activism in the arsenic mitigation area. We don't want to see such an assessment go in vain or give rise to further talking into the ether.This view was reported on (The Daily Star,) October 16, 2002. But still it is MORE WORDS, LESS WORK ON ARSENIC MITIGATION (2006).

    Dr Saadat Hussain (advisor to Advocacy and Human Rights Unit of Brac) identified nepotism at the local governance level and leakage at the service delivery system as major setbacks in developing the status of the ultra-poor. There are some people having close connections with the local government representatives who eat up the relief or other assistance allocated for the ultra-poor under different government programme, he added. "This is how the ultra-poor have been deprived of their access development," he said ((Daily Star, July 13, 2006).

    The country had to incur a total financial loss of Tk 526.27 crore due to corruption in various constituents of the public and private sectors in 2005, according to a report on corruption released on Wednesday (5. 07. 06) by Transparency International Bangladesh. Abuse of absolute power helps expansion of corruption in the society,’ said TIB, terming it the main factor behind corrupt practices. According to the report, LGRD and cooperatives ministry is at the top of the list of corruption with incurring over Tk 208 crore losses in 2005. TIB identified the local government, rural development, power division and the forest department as the most corrupt public offices in terms of monetary losses (New Age, July 6, 2006).

    What may we know of the secret sorrow of the poor?

    The poor in the developing world pay on average 12 times more for water than people connected to municipal systems, according to an ongoing study by the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century. While the rich benefit from subsidized treated piped water, water vendors charge the poor up to 100 times more for water of doubtful quality in some cities such as Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Nouakchot, Mauritania. We know from econometric analysis, that the poorest suffer the most from arsenicosis in Bangladesh (WHO, 2000). Most arsenic patient of Bangladesh is still drinking arsenic contaminated water and can hardly afford any medical treatment or piped water.

    The poorest can barely afford to offer money or time for a village committee or maintenance of installations. Therefore, local communities allow each of the families that are making use of the water resource to contribute an amount they can afford. Sometimes, contribution from 30 families for a deep tubewell of Tk. 5000 varies between Tk. 0 and Tk. 800 or piped water. Relatively well-off people who can afford to contribute a large amount of money or to become a member of a village committee, are able to derive more privileges from their increased status.
    Despite the quite impressive network of DPHE thana, district and division offices, these departments are hopelessly subject to inefficiency, bureaucracy, corruption, lack of capacity, lack of capabilities, lack of professionals etc.

    The WB functions best in countries like ours because we have no performance audits, no accountability, extreme crony corruption and, to be honest, inadequate mental faculties to challenge them. Those who have chase them for assignments. And so everyone has a stake in the World Bank.. What became obvious was the extreme contempt in which the official technocrats and bureaucrats held ordinary people. The entire idea of development in Bangladesh is based on the GO-NGO co-operation model and the people have little role to play in this. NGOs are generically fund seekers and now provider of employment. Most of them have almost no reality beyond this. And this generally grovelling bunch conveniently represents the public face in the eyes of the donors who ultimately decide policies. Not because they want to but because they have to. The ability of the national counterparts is so low that they would not be able to formulate a policy without donor support. They are unable to disagree either because that might mean fund cuts. So it all ends up in the same basket (Afsan Chowdhury, Daily Star, famous columnist).

    it is a disaster for the people but it is also an indictment on water and health authorities because doctors in contaminated areas are finding it increasingly hard to treat an increasing number of people suffering from arsenic-poisoning. The fact that we now have a second generation of people growing up with the signs of arsenic poisoning should spur us to action but this is apparently not the case. Even newborn babies have not escaped this scourge and many are being born with the poison inside their bodies.

    Although a number of arsenic remediation techniques are currently available, ranging from conventional coagulation to modern principles, sufficiently cost-effective remediation methods are still not generally available for implementation in developing countries like Bangladesh. With several thousand cases of melanosis already on record, it is important to note that as of July 2005, only 30% of the villages have been surveyed. Therefore more information from a greater number of surveys may reveal a far larger number of people have been affected. According to another World Bank study, a clear picture of the epidemiology of arsenic in South Asia is yet to emerge despite a number of research studies and other interventions. This study also revealed that estimates of possible health impact of arsenic ingestion are mostly based on data collected from the United States and Taiwan therefore their validity for interpretation or application for Bangladesh is questionable.

    The future of Bangladeshi villages has been jeopardised, but this diabolical situation did not happen overnight and is the effect of years of ignorance and neglect. Moreover household chemical solutions cannot hold the fort for much longer as one by one they are proven inefficient and subject to too many variables. When recommending remediation technologies for Bangladesh we must be able to distinguish between methods appropriate for the US and other advanced nations and ones intended for villages. Considering that arsenic is a serious threat to human life, we must be forgiven if we fail to comprehend why a comprehensive mitigation programme is still not in place (Sylvia Mortoza, The Bangladesh Observer, February 10, 2006).

    Kuzurdia--an arsenic-free village

    Project Report 2006-8

    a new as-free well by our project

    The current risk has spread over 80 million people. LGRD Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiya last Sunday informed the national parliament about the matter. In the mid-90s it was 50 million and now even before the passage of a decade it has affected 60 per cent people of the whole country. So far, around 50 lakh tube-wells have been checked (some reports say most of the tests are wrong, A new study of wells in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, suggests the arsenic test kits used by field workers are frequently inaccurate, producing scores of incorrectly labeled wells. The findings were published this month on the Web site of Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The print version of the paper is scheduled for the Dec. 15 edition of the journal., 2002) and of them, 14 lakh, a staggering number, have been identified to contain arsenic. Already, arsenic contamination has taken a deadly form in 9 thousand villages with 80 to 100 per cent contamination and if the present move aimed at mitigation is not geared up then arsenic will continue to kill and deform (New Age, 19. 05. 06).

    None of the project of the Government is addressing to mitigate arsenic contamination, whereas misuse of money, corruption, manipulation and increase in so called "experts" without the practicaland scientific knowledge of arsenic mitigation are responsible for the failure of the projects. We invited resposible LGRD Minister who first wanted to visit Faridpur and then rejected to see project area! We wanted to show that a fraction of the money is required to mitigate arsenic in most of the areas. However, the country incurred a financial loss of over Tk 526 crore in 423 incidents of corruption in the year 2005, reports BDNews. This was revealed in the 'corruption detabase 2005 report' of the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) published Wednesday through a press conference at the National Press Club. According to the report, LGRD and cooperatives ministry is at the top of the list of corruption with incurring over Tk 208 crore losses in 2005(Bangladesh Observer, July 6, 2006).

    In all of World Vision Bangladesh’s Area Development Programmes (ADPs) education and prevention of arsenic poisoning are important goals. In some ADPs, such as Chitalmari, access to safe, clean water is such a vitally important issue that World Vision runs a separate, New Zealand Government funded, water project from 2000-2003. By the end of the project more than 32,000 people had access to safe water. But we see in Faridpur almost all its program has failed whether TSF (Tubewell Sand Filter) or Direct Dug Wells (see pictures). We have shown that with the knowledge of hydrogeology, arsenic free water can be obtained with a fraction of the money spend by NGOs or Government.

    An intervention that is made with the best intentions to solve a problem but ends up worsening the situation or creating new problems. Past efforts to improve the drinking water supply of Bangladesh are a classic example.

    Unique and differing stratigraphies found within the delta system

    The distribution of arsenic in this region showed a high degree of spatial variability, this high degree of spatial variability also presented an opportunity for remediation. We have discovered that within contaminated aqufiers there is facies change (deltaic sedimentation) allows to discover arsenic free aquifers. Once we have made such discovery, many villagers intiated targeted arsenic free tubewells. Thus with afraction of the expenses we have made several arsenic free villages:

  • 1. Village Vashan Char
  • 2. Village Ambikapur
  • 3. Village Kaijuri
  • 4. Village Tulagram
  • 5. Village Muraridhoa
  • 6. Village Purbo Muraridhoa
  • 7. Village Purbo Banogram
  • 8. Village Madha Para, Domkaron
  • 9. Village Purbo Banogram, Dhakin Para
  • 10. Village Tambulkhana
  • 11. Village Betbaria
  • 12. Aubergine Village- Betbaria
  • 13. Village Kasnail
  • Also several villages in Noakhali distric and many more villages in Faridpur.

    Only arsenic-free water is not enough. We are proud for those who could made themselves self independent through our small effort:

    preparing paper bags -recycle paper paper bags -old news-paper just obtained certificates - handwork




    Priority of Our Project in Faridpur and other areas to help the neglected and the poor













    Village Fakirabad,Veramara-Kustia district 12.08.08: Several deaths from this water, but people driniking this water as there is any alternative. Miratunessa (15), and Jharna died 13 years ago - without knowing the symptoms arsenic poisoning. They have lost three sons, one daughter , husband , mother in law, sister in law etc. from drnking water from this tubewell. They do not have yet any safe water.

    Where is SONOFILTER million dollar prize winner from Kustia district? The daily Prothom Alo writes (August 12, 2008): Money obtained from different sources about 40 million dollars (World Bank, UNICEF, US AID, CIDA (CANADA), JAICA (Japan), SIDA (Sweden), Australian Aid, UNDP etc) for arsenic mitigation has totally failed to addrees arsenic mitigation. And the money is vanished in the name of Arsenic Mitigation. Dr. Ainul Nishat (IUCN), a reknown water expert, says it is doubtful about the achievement of arsenic mitigation by the Government and NGOs.

    77m poisoned by arsenic in drinking water
    BBC, 19 June 2010

    a dead patient>Up to 77 million people in Bangladesh have been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from drinking water in recent decades, according to a Lancet study.

    The research assessed nearly 12,000 people in a district of the capital Dhaka for over a period of 10 years. More than 20% of deaths among those assessed were caused by the naturally occurring poisonous element, it found.

    The World Health Organization said the exposure was "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history". It began after hand-pumped wells were installed in the 1970s to tap groundwater.

    Scientists say even small amounts of arsenic over a long period can cause cancer of the bladder, kidney, lung or skin. Bangladesh was chosen for the study because nearly 90% of the population uses groundwater as its primary source of fresh water.

    Millions in Bangladesh exposed to arsenic in drinking water BANGLADESH

    June 20, 2010|By Brian Walker, CNN

    could be the worst mass poisoning in history. And the terrible irony is that it may all be due to an idealistic push to clean up drinking water for some of the world's poorest people.

    a dead patientA new study published in British medical journal The Lancet says that up to 77 million people in Bangladesh are being exposed to toxic levels of arsenic, potentially taking years or decades off their lives.
    An international team of researchers from Chicago, New York and Bangladesh followed 12,000 people over the past decade, monitoring their arsenic intake and mortality rates from contaminated wells.

    Use of arsenic-contaminated water jeopardising lives of millions

    10 died -matbar died last yearResearchers writing in The Lancet study calculated that in the past thirty years, roughly 77 million people in Bangladesh, around half of the country’s population, were accidentally exposed to arsenic contaminated water.

    Using a century’s worth of data collected by the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS), scientists tracked arsenic poisoning in correlation with mortality rates. The massive study involved testing 11,746 participants every two years, in addition to testing 5,966 wells for contamination.

    All participants with arsenic contamination, regardless of the concentration, had an increased risk of mortality -- meaning that people exposed to the Bangladesh safety standard levels (50 micrograms/liter) and even the WHO recommended standard levels (10 micrograms/liter) were at increased risk of sickness.

    The most disturbing results, however, showed that once individuals were exposed to high arsenic levels, their risk of mortality remained high even after they subsequently decreased or stopped their exposure.

    The arsenic problem in Bangladesh has not been taken as a serious threat to public health. A decade ago the government, donor organisations, NGO's and research institutions declared that people of Bangladesh were vulnerable to arsenic contamination of water. Numerous projects designed to solve the problem have been taken up by different organisations with large amount of foreign fund flowing in. But the irony is after so many years of such initiatives the organizations - foreign and local - have failed to ensure safe drinking water for the people of Bangladesh. *Mortuza Ali Chowdhury Milan . June 28.2010



    So, it is high time for the Bangladesh government and non-government organisations to concentrate on this problem and take appropriate steps as soon as possible to do defend Bangladesh from arsenic's damage.
    Mohammed Jamal Uddin,Dept. of English Language and Literature, International Islamic University,Chittagong.

    Chittagong under arsenic threat

    CHITTAGONG, DEC 6,2010: Most of the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) areas is under the threat of arsenic contamination as in almost all shallow tube wells’ water arsenic has found at a hazardous level. The report titled ‘Arsenic Scenario in CCC’ revealed that the port city’s 13 wards, out of 41, are already and definitely arsenic contaminated. Among them condition of 7 wards, such as: East Sholashahar, South Kattali, West Bakalia, East Bakalia, South Bakalia, North Agrabad and North Halishar are severely affected. About 30 per cent of shallow tube wells have been found contaminated causing a huge health risk for the city.

    It is mention worthy that two-third CCC people, having no other alternative, depend on tube wells water both for drinking water and household using, as Chittagong WASA can fulfill the requirements of one-third of the city dwellers (The Independent,26. 12.10),

    Arsenic is a slow killer that accumulates in the body resulting in nails rotting, dark spots, bleeding sores, swelling, large warts and a form of gangrene. It is carcinogen increasing the risk of skin cancer and tumours of the bladder, kidney, liver and lungs.

    As a result of widespread water contamination domestic abuse has become just one of the social costs. There are now many reports of broken marriage, as husbands send disfigured wives back to their parents. In arsenic polluted areas many young men and women don't get married at all. Some people think the poison can be passed on from parent to child so many arsenic poisoned women have problems finding husbands.

    NASA-Funded Research Discovers Life Built With Toxic Chemical
    microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic

    The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] has finally released its highly-anticipated mysterious announcement that was said “to impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” Turns out that the agency has discovered a new life form right here on Earth. To be more specific, the new life form has been found in Mono Lake in California.

    The new microorganisms appear to thrive and reproduce in toxic chemical arsenic. All known forms of life on Earth are made up of six basic elements — carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur. However, the new microorganisms uses arsenic instead of phosphorus in its cell components — something which was initially believed to be impossible despite theories from various scientist.

    Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

    Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur are the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth. Phosphorus is part of the chemical backbone of DNA and RNA, the structures that carry genetic instructions for life, and is considered an essential element for all living cells.

    Phosphorus is a central component of the energy-carrying molecule in all cells (adenosine triphosphate) and also the phospholipids that form all cell membranes. Arsenic, which is chemically similar to phosphorus, is poisonous for most life on Earth. Arsenic disrupts metabolic pathways because chemically it behaves similarly to phosphate.

    “The definition of life has just expanded,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.”

    The results of this study will inform ongoing research in many areas, including the study of Earth’s evolution, organic chemistry, biogeochemical cycles, disease mitigation and Earth system research. These findings also will open up new frontiers in microbiology and other areas of research.

    The number of sick people will increase to a dangerous level as arsenicosis

    people drinking water from a source containing a level of 10-50 microgrammes have a 34 percent higher risk of death and those with the highest level of exposure (between 150 and 864 microgrammes) had a 64 percent higher risk of mortality. Exposure at relatively lower levels also carried a risk. As groundwater is still the main source of drinking water for a large percentage of the population, what should be of equal concern to the government is the fact that one of the main problems resulting from consumption of arsenic on a daily basis is it reduces the productivity level of a person.



    But if the polluted tube-wells are not sealed off or medicines provided, the number of sick people will increase to a dangerous level as arsenicosis is a major disease that becomes the silent terror as it creeps up on people to cause major problems and sufferings.

    This is the scenario that has been allowed to develop as proper attention was never given by any government since the discovery of arsenic in tube-well water. That this gross indifference to such a critical problem was counterproductive never entered the thoughts of those in power. Those who have continued to drink the contaminated water, either out of ignorance or for lack of an alternative source, are victims of a gross lack of concern. But worse still, if seen from an economic point of view, is that arsenicosis has created a work force unfit to work (Editorial, The Independent,16 October 2010).

    While problems of people living in the capital are well focused, people in the rural areas are hardly given any attention. The lack of safe water is one such problem that millions of people living outside the major cities are faces with even though, the country has very easy sources for natural water. Faulty policymaking, lack of awareness, lack of implementation of existing laws, a tendency of blindly following the prescription of donor agencies have led to the misuse and destruction of natural water. According to studies carried out by several government and non-government agencies, over dependence on the underground water level has resulted in the table declining at an alarming rate as well as polluting the underground water sources .

    Seasoned geologist of the country M Abdullah, who was one of the active members of formulating the national policy says, "Going to deeper aquifer as the quick solution to the problem can never mitigate it. It will rather lead the crisis to a point where we have nothing to do. It's true that arsenic is frequent in the upper water table. As a quick solution the government agency is initiating plan to use deeper aquifer. Doing it arsenic can easily defuse to the deeper aquifer through leaching. Then the deeper aquifer will also be arsenic-contaminated. Moreover, because of so much dependence on the underground for irrigation, safe water and other reasons the water table is declining at an alarming rate"

    (E. Komol, Daily Star)

    Some 100 million people in Bangladesh and West Bengal of India are exposed to risk from groundwater arsenic contamination, according to experts from home and abroad. Arsenic-contaminated water and food can cause various diseases including cancer, which may be a major problem in Bangladesh and India in future, they said. The health risks also include skin lesions, respiratory problems, cardiac disease, nervous system disorders, reproductive defects, diabetes mellitus, and cancers of organs like skin, lung, kidney, and bladder.

    The observations came at an international conference on “arsenic health and water supply management: affordability and sustainability” at Dhaka Community Hospital (DCH) auditorium in the capital yesterday. Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, USA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA; School of Environmental Studies (SOES), Jadavpur University, Kolkata; CRC Care, University of South Australia; and DCH organised it. "Many people in the Ganga-Meghna-Brhammaputra basins will die in the long run due to cancer," said Dr Dipankar Chakraborti, director (Research) at SOES of Jadavpur University. Chakraborti, who first discovered arsenic in India and did extensive research on the poisonous chemical, said he found many women in West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh suffering from lung cancer. According to a research, he cited, 6.4 tonnes of arsenic has been deposited in soil from 320 irrigation tube wells over an area of 200 square kilometers in India.

    “Similar or even more acute would be the situation in Bangladesh.” The authorities, however, are still negligent to the issue, Chakraborti added. He also cited a 2009 survey as saying about 16,000 patients were registered with different type of arsenical skin lesions after screening of 1.55 lakh people from affected villages in India. The researcher said they find an increasing number of patients with arsenical skin damages. Arsenic is a serious problem in food chain, especially in rice and vegetables, he added.

    Brac University Vice-chancellor Dr Ainun Nishat said, “I feel bad that this serious problem of arsenic is neglected. I don't know why.” Nishat, also a water expert, suggested highlighting the issue in the global forums for a clear understanding to the policymakers and donors. DCH Trust Chairman Prof Quazi Quamruzzaman said the main source of drinking water in Bangladesh is tube wells. As shallow tube wells are found lifting arsenic-contaminated groundwater, international agencies are suggesting for installing deep tube wells, he said.

    On the other hand, very few are advocating for use of surface water saying the water contains bacteria and germs, he added. “We however are in favour of using surface water, as filtering bacteria of surface water is easier than filtering arsenic from water.” Prof David C Christiani, Elkan professor of Environment Genetics, and Zuena Aziz, joint secretary of the LGED ministry, jointly chaired the conference. DCH coordinator Prof Mahmuder Rahman, Prof David Bellinger of Harvard University, and Prof Ravi Naidu of University of South Australia also addressed it. (Daily Star, January 19, 2011).

    GROUNDWATER ARSENIC CONTAMINATION IN BANGLADESH: CAUSES, EFFECTS

    The serious arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh has come out recently as the biggest natural calamity in the world. The people in 59 out of 64 districts comprising 126,134 km2 of Bangladesh are suffering due to the arsenic contamination in drinking water.

    Seventy five million people are at risk and 24 million are potentially exposed to arsenic contamination. Most of the recognized stages of arsenic poisoning have been identified in Bangladesh and the risk of arsenic poisoning in the population is increasing everyday.

    The severity of arsenic contamination is demanding extensive research in this field. Many studies have been carried out in Bangladesh, in West Bengal, India and other countries as well, but the situation is still out of sound control.

    Arsenic contamination is not peculiar to Bangladesh alone. This is a global problem. There are other countries in the world that had experienced or going through this problem.

    The great difference is the degree and velocity of this environmental disaster in Bangladesh for the number of people at risk is higher than other countries (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty of Engineering, University of Windsor Windsor, Ontario, N9B 3P4 Canada).

    Arsenic into the food chain

    The fact that arsenic is a serious problem has not been given the attention it deserves. But due to our inability to handle it, arsenic is now in the food chain because arsenic contaminated groundwater has been used indiscriminately for irrigation purposes. This must be stopped now. The entry of arsenic into the food chain through various food crops and fodder is no laughing matter and it is necessary to analyse soil and vegetable samples from arsenic-affected areas to test for arsenic content.

    Concentration of arsenic as high as 80mg per kg of soil was found in an area receiving arsenic-contaminated irrigation water. A comparison of crops grown in affected and unaffected areas reveals that some commonly grown vegetables accumulate substantially elevated amounts of arsenic, as for example, more than 150 mg/kg of arsenic has been found to accumulate in arum (kochu) vegetable.

    Unfortunately individual and household knowledge of specific illnesses caused by arsenic is poor. The level of education of the people does have a positive effect on individual decisions to avoid arsenic exposure but the lack of a convenient source of safe drinking water often leads people to continue drinking arsenic-contaminated water, even when they know it is contaminated Sylvia Mortoza, The Independent, 14 May 2011).

    Moderate Levels of Arsenic in Water Can Pose Health Threat Study in Bangladesh finds it may raise the risk of heart disease

    THURSDAY, May 5. 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Even moderate levels of arsenic in drinking water increases the risk for heart disease, a new study suggests.

    To assess the risk from moderate exposure to arsenic, researchers studied nearly 12,000 men and women in Araihazar, Bangladesh, where groundwater is contaminated with arsenic. The researchers measured arsenic levels in wells used for drinking water by the participants, who also gave periodic urine samples that were tested for arsenic. Participants were followed for about 6.6 years.

    The death rate from cardiovascular disease was 271 per 100,000 person years among people who drank water with moderate levels of arsenic (12 to 864 parts per billion, or ppb), compared with 214 per 100,000 person years among people who drank water with low levels of arsenic (less than 12 ppb). Nearly 30 percent of the deaths among the study participants can be attributed, in part, to moderate levels of arsenic in drinking water, according to the researchers (May 5, 2011,the British Medical Journal)

    A dangerous but neglected issue

    Bangladesh is no stranger to environmental disasters, but the biggest and most insidious of them is arsenic contamination of groundwater. Although this impending tragedy was most definitely known in 1990, it took another seven years for the Government of Bangladesh to finally admit to the world that another disaster was unfolding in this country often buffeted by nature.

    Bad as it was this tragedy has not been given the attention it deserved, nor has it been effectively handled by successive governments Even educating people about its dangers was not awfully successful.

    As Dr. Allen H. Smith said, "It seems like nonsense to people, telling them the water is killing them when it looks so clean and nice." It not only looked clean and nice, it tasted good too but as the water cleverly concealed its true nature how was it possible to convince them that the arsenic in the water was a slow sadistic killer?

    That the public education programme also failed is evidenced by the fact that two decades later those who switched over to the “safe water” are still baffled when told that the water was poisoned.

    Worse still, having got used to having water on their doorsteps they were unwilling to give up this convenience for the inconvenience of carrying water from the river or pond.

    And though the people need to be prevented from drinking contaminated water, they mostly do not pay heed to such warnings until it is too late to protect them.

    The result of this is that many villagers are showing signs of poisoning. Despite the passage of time, Bangladesh is still fighting what was once called the "largest mass poisoning of a population in history." Even so it is hard to know the extent of the contamination or how many people will die from arsenic-related causes, although one of our own public health specialists predicted long ago that a total of three to five million people will suffer from the effect of arsenic poisoning.

    That prediction seems to be becoming true as the number of the afflicted rises.

    As Han A. Heijnen, once the environmental health adviser for the World Health Organization in Dhaka said, "It has been a terrible frustration to watch. So much remains to be done.”

    Unfortunately no one is counting the cost, yet the cost to the economy is very great as the victims of arsenic poisoning can no longer work to support themselves. Consequently, two decades later there remains so much to be done (Editorial, The Independent, April 7, 2011).

    Arsenic contamination throughout the country are alarming - Over 7 crore people are said to be at risk from arsenic

    Over 7 crore people are said to be at risk from arsenic contamination, while over 2 crore people are actually drinking unsafe water. Though the current government in its last election manifesto had promised arsenic-free water supply to the people, it is yet to fulfil the promise. In fact, while more people have access to arsenic-free water due to safe water supply projects from the government, there are currently no projects directly related to arsenic pollution, and committees which were formed to deal with the problem have been inactive for years.

    Neither are we clear on the actual extent of the problem and, even more so, that of the health repercussions. The 2010 figures of 56,758 patients suffering from arsenicosis may be an understatement.

    For, while some people are visibly suffering the consequences, reflected in skin problems including skin cancer, others may well be suffering unknowingly, with the contaminated water aggravating conditions such as cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung, diseases of the blood vessels of the legs and feet, diabetes, high blood pressure and reproductive disorders. These figures are unknown and excluded from government statistics, making it even more difficult to actually do something about it.

    While the problem is, literally, deep-rooted, there are ways out. Safe water supply is the first and foremost necessity in countering arsenic contamination, for many people in the country knowingly drink contaminated water simply because they have no source of safe water. Committees must be reactivated to investigate the current extent of the problem and identify and implement solutions, such as installing deep tube wells wherever necessary. The government must go all out to tackle the problem which is putting crores of lives at risk. What can we claim to have achieved as a nation if we cannot provide our citizens with a need as basic as safe drinking water?(Daily Star,Editorial, April 3, 2012)

    Short brown rice and soil arsenic

    Editorial, The Independent, Tuesday, 24 April 2012.

    Considering its low cost and important nutritional value it will be very difficult to wean people off of it, but the fact that rice is grown in flooded fields which, as Andy Meharg, a professor of biogeochemistry at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland said, "dramatically changes the (soil) chemistry" releasing arsenic locked up in soil minerals, and the arsenic is taken up by rice paddies. An international team of researchers, including those from India, were so intrigued by this fact as the residents of three villages in West Bengal’s Nadia district are still getting arsenic-induced skin lesions despite drinking arsenic-free water.

    They collected 157 brown rice samples from randomly selected residents and compared them with Basmati rice from the market. The researchers randomly picked five grains from each sample and measured their length and breadth. The samples were classified into four categories - short-bold, medium-slender, long-slender and extra-long slender. Basmati rice was categorised as extra-long slender. Next they dissolved the grains in acid and analysed the arsenic content. The results were shocking because arsenic concentration was highest in the short bold types of rice – the brown rice.



    Brown rice is a favourite of villagers because it is rich in micronutrients, but now that we know this nutritious grain contains arsenic, this has evil portents for the people of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Dipiti Halder, lead author of the study said, “Higher concentration in short-bold rice might be due to the development of thicker outer bran layer by complex interaction between environmental and genetic controls.” The white rice has lower arsenic as polishing removes outer bran layer which accumulates the heavy metal. Switching to long grain brown rice may help avert arsenic-induced toxicity, suggest the researchers, but it may be a difficult choice.

    The discovery of arsenic in the groundwater of Bangladesh has challenged all efforts to provide safe drinking water to households. But as arsenic contaminated groundwater is still being used for irrigation, even where safe drinking water is provided, the threat has increased because even if they drink arsenic-free water, they are still consuming arsenic from rice and vegetables. Rice takes up more arsenic from the soil than other crops. This has been known for some time but the new study raises concerns about the arsenic levels ingested by women who eat as little as half a cup of cooked rice a day. Currently there are no limits on the amount of allowable arsenic in rice in the US but the Environmental Protection Agency has set arsenic limits in water at 10 parts per billion.

    Does agriculture minister know about arsenic contaminated rice?

    How many of you know that you may’ve been eating arsenic contaminated rice, vegetables, and fish –at least twice a day –in addition to drinking toxic water all day? Well, after talking with several former and current high officials in Dhaka –including former minister Jafar Imam Bir Bk., and ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman, we concluded that most people may not be aware of rice being contaminated by arsenic. We didn’t know about it either until 5 March when the severity of arsenic contaminated rice – especially in Bangladesh –was a topic of discussion in the National Public Radio (NPR). The discussants in the NPR talk show implied that Arsenic is now everywhere and almost in everything: water, rice, vegetables, fish and seafood – as if people in Bangladesh cannot live without ingesting arsenic in some form.

    Over three decades have passed since the threat of arsenic poisoning was traced in 1993 in water with serious health alarm. Numerous rigorous studies at the national and international level warned the government and the people about the deleterious effects of drinking arsenic-toxic water. Unfortunately, much of the initial fear and panic have faded away over time at all levels –as if living with and slow poisoning from arsenic is divinity preordained. Even though there is overwhelming evidence that arsenic-tainted irrigation pumps are the reason for high levels of arsenic in soils, successive government have failed to develop any significant arsenic safe plan to protect the population. The result is: Arsenic stained water is now contaminating rice at dangerously unacceptable levels. According to the World Health Organisation, drinking arsenic contaminated water may claim as many as 270, 000 lives which is certain to multiply from eating arsenic contaminated vegetables and rice. Aside from Bangladesh, where the situation is most dire, 19 other countries are also exposed to the perils of arsenic threat. They include India (West Bengal), Taiwan, Chile, Argentina, USA, Inner Mongolia, New Zealand, Hungary, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Arsenic is confirmed globally as human carcinogen – a cancer causing substance. The toxic effects of high level of arsenic can range from gangrene of the peripheral organs to skin cancer and cancer of the internal organs such as the lung, liver, kidney and bladder, and cardiovascular and neurological disorders.

    Ingestion of arsenic and many compounds of arsenic disrupt the digestive system which can lead to death from shock. The symptoms of arsenic poisoning are intense stomach pains, vomiting and delirium. There can be mild headaches progressing towards usual light headedness if it goes untreated. At the time of ingestion, it is suggested to immediately ingest 5 charcoal tablets, so that it helps soak up the arsenic and then pass it through the system naturally. Eating food with sulphur like eggs and onions neutralizes arsenic in a natural, nonchemical way. Presently, there are many chemical and synthetic methods being used to treat its poisoning (www.mineralszone.com). Treatments for arsenic toxicity exposure before reaching the hospital include the decontamination of clothing, as well as, eye, skin, and ingestion measures.

    Ever since the incidence of high level of arsenic was detected in deep tube well water in Bangladesh in 1993, development partners have pumped millions of dollars into different arsenic mitigation projects. According to some estimate, nearly 77 million people may have been exposed to high arsenic levels in the Ganges Delta region: northern India, West Bengal, and lower plains of Nepal. More than half of the Bangladesh’s populations are exposed to chronic effects of arsenic through the contaminated rice, cereals, vegetables, and water. Arsenic has been found in groundwater in most of the district of Bangladesh which is contaminating the food chain gradually. About one-fifth of the population in most of the arsenic affected areas in the country is at risk of consuming arsenic in rice, wheat and vegetables.

    Researchers have found that rice, Bangladesh’s staple crop, is tainted by arsenic through irrigation water pumped from contaminated soils. While the maximum safe level of arsenic food standard is one milligram per kilogram (mg/kg), the Bangladeshi rice in arsenic prevalent areas contain as high as 1.7mg/kg – which is well above the safe limit. Based on scientific determination, the maximum allowable limit of arsenic consumption through food by a person is 0.2 mg/kg per day. Though a few vegetables are still safe from arsenic, but the most unsafe highest concentration of arsenic was found in arum (150 mg/kg), bean (5.1 mg/kg), tomato ( 20.1 mg/kg), papaya (0.83 to 1.1 mg/kg), cauliflower (1.8 to 2.7 mg/kg), cabbage (0.05 to 7.2 mg/kg), leafy vegetables, red spinach and stalks of spinach (1.9 to 4. 5 mg/kg), wheat (1 mg/kg) and rice (5.3 mg/kg).

    Vegetables which are considered safe with least amount of arsenic concentration include: : potato, bitter gourd, brinjal, snake gourd (chichinga), kakrol, ladies finger, palwal, large leafy spinach, pumpkin, sweet potato, turmeric, ginger and green chili. Bangladesh has the highest percentage of contaminated shallow tube wells and an estimated 30 million people are dependent on those wells for drinking water and irrigation. Arsenic enters the food chain mainly through crops absorbing contaminated irrigation water. Much, if not all, of the contamination originates in arsenic-rich sediments of the Ganges and Brahmaputra River that filters into groundwater water are pumped to the surface through millions of tube wells.

    It is quite understandable why the country had to use underground water and cultivate its land 3 times in a year since 1971. Scarcity of clean water and the one eyed water resource management policy of India have forced Bangladesh with no other feasible alternative. Some recommendations – however implausible they may seem — include: Developing surface water resources for those Upazila in the central part of the country that have high levels of arsenic in groundwater.

    Avoiding production of boro rice where groundwater arsenic levels are high. Other cereal crops such as maize and wheat, which require far less water could be substituted for rice in the winter season.

    Using modern water conserving technologies, such as using raised beds and furrow maybe used in irrigation in place flood irrigation, would further reduce arsenic loading to soil. Expanding boro rice production in the northern part of the country where groundwater arsenic levels are low.

    Understandably, such changes would require substantial investment in infrastructure; however, the long-term pay-off from circumventing soil contamination with arsenic can be larger-than-life and reaches to the core of agricultural sustainability in the country. Some relief may be prowling for the future. Scientists claim to have demystified the secrets of how crops such as rice absorb arsenic; the genetic proof indicates same gene that helps plants fight off fungal infections appears to allow plant cells to absorb arsenite. This finding and further research along the lines may facilitate the prospects of developing genetically engineered crops allowing rice and other plants accumulate silicon and reject arsenic making the food chain safer.

    Abdullah Dewan and Pamelia Khaled

    The writers respectively are Professor of Economics at Eastern Michigan University, USA — and Graduate Student at York University, Toronto, Canada.

    (The Sun, March 21, 2012)

    We are advocating for surfac water irrigation for decades since it is cheaper and arsenic free but none of the governments do not care for it.

  • . Irrigation System in Bangladesh

  • Destruction of Traditional Methods “river water in the early months of the flood is gold” of Agriculture

    Groundwater Contamination by Agriculture


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    Arsenicosis affected Asia Begum is counting her days at her Hogoldanga village home in Sabdalpur union under Sreepur upazila of Magura district as doctors at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University detected malignancy in her liver seven months ago. The 50-year-old woman, now bed-ridden, can hardly eat as she has very little digestion power, family sources said. Asia's husband Baharul Munshi, a poor farmer, died in 2003 after both of his legs were amputated as those developed gangrene from long-term intake of arsenic contaminated water.

    Seven other people of the same village also died of arsenicosis and arsenic related diseases between 2003 and 2012 by drinking arsenic contaminated water for several years, sources in Sreepur upazila health complex said. In last four years, Laily Khatun, 46, wife of Golam Sarwar, their son Belal Hossain, 25, and daughter Joly Khatun, 13, died of similar situation.

    Rizia Khatun, 30, Abul Kalam, 50, and Abdus Salam, 42, of the village also faced the same fate in 2003, 2005 and 2009 as they drank arsenic contaminated water for years, family and upazila health complex sources said. In the latest incident on July 11 this year, Golam Tahur, 52, of the village died after his right leg was amputated about eight months ago as gangrene was detected by the doctors, sources in UHC informed.

    Visiting the village about 20 kilometres from Magura district town, this correspondent found Golam Sarwar, 50, his daughter Asma Khatun, 15, Abu Zafar, 34, Sharafat Ali, 40, Rabeya Begum, 40, Firoz Mia, 22, Nawab Ali, 18, Hitu Munshi, 20, Salma Khatun, 20, Shahidul Islam, 53, Nazmul, 30, and Sohel Mia, 20, are bearing symptoms of arsenicosis.

    "One after another, villagers are dying of arsenicosis but the authorities did not bother to arrange fresh water to save us," said Golam Sarwar who lost his wife, a son and a daughter due to arsenic related diseases.

    "After Baharul died of gangrene due to arsenic poisoning in 2003, we are crying for arsenic free tube-wells but to no effect. Still people in the area are forced to drink arsenic contaminated water that caused death of seven other people," said Shamsunnahar, wife of deceased Abdus Salam (Daily Star, August 13, 2012).

    11 million people under arsenic threat, October 19, 2012

    Eleven million people, around 12.6 percent of Bangladesh's population, are under threat of arsenic contamination as they live in 466 unions prone to arsenic. In 2011, some 57,000 people were identified to have been suffering from arsenic-related diseases. Since 2009, an estimated 40 million people have not been taking safe water while 19 million people were found to be in immediate need of safe water supply. The statistics were revealed at a seminar, "Arsenic Mitigation under Model Building for Safe Water Supply Service by Local Government Institution Project", at the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) auditorium in the capital yesterday.

    The seminar was jointly organised by Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), Local Government Division (LGD), DPHE and Asia Arsenic Network (AAN), says a Jica press release. Speakers at the seminar said 50 percent of the country's shallow tube wells have not been examined since 2005.

    Victim of arsenicosis Asia Begum counts her days

    Victim of arsenicosis Asia Begum counts her days at her village home in Magura as doctors recently detected malignancy in her liver, right, hand of an arsenic victim at Hogoldanga village in the district.

    Victim of arsenicosis Asia Begum counts her days at her village home in Magura as doctors recently detected malignancy in her liver, right, hand of an arsenic victim at Hogoldanga village in the district.

    Dr Shyamol Kumar Das, Sreepur upazila health and family planning officer, said, "The case of arsenic poisoning in Hogoldanga village is a unique case as all the victims of arsenicosis including the eight killed people are members of an extended family. We are now giving iron and antioxidant tablets to the arsenicosis patients as there is no remedy of the disease."(Daily Star, April 25, 2013)

    Frightening facts and figure

    THE findings of a research by the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, based in the University of Newcastle, Australia, which were released during a seminar on ‘Cancer Morbidity and Mortality among Chronically Arsenic Exposed Population in Rural Bangladesh’ in the capital on Tuesday, are scary.

    According to a New Age report on Thursday, the research reveals that while the overall mortality rate for cancer among people not exposed to arsenic is 106 per one lakh, it is 165 per one lakh among chronically-exposed population. The findings come at a time when millions of people around the country have already been exposed to arsenic-related diseases. As mentioned in different studies, national and international, conducted since 1993, the year the first case of arsenic-affected disease came to light at Chapainababganj, around eight crore people in more than two-thirds of the districts of the country have been drinking tube-well water that has higher levels of arsenic than is deemed safe.

    Most importantly, almost all the people at arsenic risk belong to rural areas in general and poor and low-income groups in particular, and can hardly afford alternative sources of safe drinking water.

    At the same time, most of them lack adequate awareness of the menace. On the other hand, the relevant government authorities, including the Public Health Engineering Department, in most of the arsenic-affected districts, have so far reportedly done very little other than marking arsenic-contaminated tube-wells with danger sign and advising people not to drink water from these tube-wells.

    Overall, it is safe to presume that many people who are already exposed to arsenic have continued to depend on arsenic-contaminated tube-wells for drinking water. Meanwhile, different non-governmental organisations that were initially seen eager to implement projects intended to help arsenic-affected people appear to have abandoned these projects for unknown reasons.

    It is, of course, almost an established fact that enthusiasm of most NGOs working in the country on any issue is linked to that of their donors abroad. (New Age, February 15, 2013).

    Arsenic-related diseases spreading across country
    Lack of safe drinking water blamed

    A lot of diseases are spreading among people in different parts of the country because of drinking arsenic-contaminated water, according to health experts. A large number of people are suffering from various diseases such as skin pigmentation (Melanosis) and lesions (Keratosis and Hyper Kertosis for drinking arsenic-contaminated water.

    These ailments often lead to liver and kidney diseases, cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes, gangrene, multiple cancers and peripheral diseases, health experts said.

    Public health experts of the country, while talking to daily sun, expressed grave concern over the spread of arsenic-related diseases in different parts of the country. Dr. Muhammad Abdus Sabur, a noted public health expert, quoting a survey of Directorate of Health Services said people in 62 districts out of 64 are suffering from arsenic-related diseases. “Many people in these areas, who have been drinking arsenic-contaminated water knowingly or unknowingly for a long time, have been attacked with various diseases,” he noted. Dr. Sabur said a WHO study on arsenic contamination shows that permissible limit of arsenic in drinking water is 0.05mg/1 but now this prevalence rate in Bangladesh is about 60mg/1.

    People, including children, are knowingly or unknowingly taking this poison in their body through drinking of arsenic-contaminated water and eating food cooked by such water, he observed.

    Dr AKM Jafar Ullah, project director of arsenic mitigation programme of Directorate of Health Services under health ministry said arsenic contamination of ground water has been widely reported in Bangladesh since 1993.

    In 1994, the then government constituted three national committees to control and mitigate the arsenic pollution in the country. A total of 2,875 people have so far died of arsenic-related diseases and 120,000 have been suffering from various arsenic-related diseases across the country”, Dr. Jafar added(The Sun, 3 April, 2013)

    Arsenic contamination alarming in Kushtia

    The number of arsenic-affected patients is increasing alarmingly in Kushtia district for lack of awareness and lax monitoring by the authorities concerned. The patients here have been suffering from skin diseases which cause emergence of black spots on their bodies. Sources in Kumarkhali Upazila Health Complex said that the number of arsenic-affected patients in the upazila stands at 412 which was 242 last year.

    The number of arsenic-affected patients is increasing alarmingly in Kushtia district for lack of awareness and lax monitoring by the authorities concerned. The patients here have been suffering from skin diseases which cause emergence of black spots on their bodies. Sources in Kumarkhali Upazila Health Complex said that the number of arsenic-affected patients in the upazila stands at 412 which was 242 last year.



    However, some organisations claimed that they have been trying to keep the situation under control.

    As a result, the situation has turned worse.

    In 2001, for the last time, the arsenic affected tube-wells in the district were detected marking red signs and the users were asked not to use the waters of the marked tube-wells. Dr Akuluddin of Kumarkhali Health Complex said most of the arsenic free tube-wells installed by the government have already gone out of order for overlooking proper maintenance and monitoring.

    Scarcity of pure drinking water has gripped the people in the district as much of the groundwater has been contaminated. According to Department of Public Health of Kumarkhali, the level of arsenic contamination is very high because they are living beside the river Padma. Experts said that the level of contamination has risen alarmingly.

    At present, like Kumarkhali, the inhabitants of Shelaidah, Jagannathpur and Chandpur face severe problems for want of pure drinking water as the contamination has been growing quickly day by day. The arsenic-affected patients have been passing their days miserably as any government, NGOs and social organisations have not come forward to mitigate their sufferings (Daily Sun, 2 March 2013 ).

    Anthropogenic Source of Arsenic in other Areas eg Sri Lanka

    Sri Lanka

    housands of people in the Asian island nation of Sri Lanka have been struck by a mysterious and deadly form of kidney disease. A new study points to a likely cause - pesticides and fertilisers.

    The new study blames farm chemicals, which are cheap in Sri Lanka, thanks to government subsidies, and often overused. Cadmium is found in some fertilisers. Arsenic is an active ingredient in some pesticides.

    Companies that import and sell pesticides and herbicides contest the government's conclusion. They point out that the government and WHO have not yet released their full study.

    "We believe the evidence is not scientific enough to say that the pesticide is the main reason for this chronic kidney disease," says Senarath Kiriwaththuduwage, research and development manager at Crop Life Sri Lanka, an industry trade association. "These findings are not published in reputed scientific journals."(BBC, 18 September 2012 Last updated at 05:40 GMT )

    43,000 die annually in Bangladesh: Study

    About 43,000 to 56,000 people die annually in Bangladesh from diseases caused by arsenic, a poisonous chemical that contaminates groundwater mostly in the southern parts of the country, says a study. Also, some 0.5 percent of the GDP is lost due to this, according to the study on arsenic contamination in Bangladesh jointly conducted by the Department of Geology, Dhaka University, and Columbia University, USA.

    Tests of 50,000 tubewells in Araihazar upazila of Narayanganj revealed that water of 48 percent of the tubewells are contaminated with arsenic. This rate is 25 percent all over Bangladesh, said Dr Kazi Matin Ahmed, geology professor of Dhaka University. He presented the paper at a seminar titled “Arsenic Activities, Research and Outcomes” organised by the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in its auditorium in the capital yesterday.

    Matin said the World Health Organization's acceptable level of arsenic in water was 10 ppb (parts per billion), but in Bangladesh the contamination level was 50 ppb. He said estimated 35 million people in Bangladesh were exposed to more than 10 ppb arsenic, 22 million to 50 ppb arsenic and 5.6 billion were exposed to over 200 ppb arsenic, which caused 18 types of diseases, including lung, skin and bladder cancer, ischemic heart diseases and skin lesions.

    “Pregnant women pass arsenic to the fetus during pregnancy, and babies are born with the same blood arsenic levels as their mothers,” said Prof Joseph Graziano of Environmental Health Sciences and Pharmacology of Columbia University, adding that parental arsenic exposure increased the risks for certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases in later life. State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque expressed his concern over rampant extraction of groundwater (Daily Star, June 18, 2014).

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