Navigation Links
Researchers offer solutions to poisonous well-water crisis in southern Asia
Date:6/1/2010

Over 100 million people in rural southern Asia are exposed every day to unsafe levels of arsenic from the well-water they drink. It more than doubles their risks for cancer, causes cardiovascular disease, and inhibits the mental development of children, among other serious effects.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has referred to the situation in Bangladesh, where an estimated 60 million people are affected, as "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history."

In the May 28 issue of the journal Science, researchers from Stanford University, the University of Delaware, and Columbia University review what scientists understand about this groundwater contamination crisis and offer solutions for the region, which spans Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

Holly Michael, assistant professor of geological sciences in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of Delaware, is a co-author of the article, with Scott Fendorf from Stanford and Alexander van Geen from Columbia University. Fendorf received his doctorate from UD in 1992 and is now chair of environmental and Earth system science at Stanford.

Michael earned her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the UD faculty in 2008. She traveled to Bangladesh to study the groundwater contamination problem firsthand during her postdoctoral training with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Arsenic occurs naturally in the Earth's crust. Tasteless, odorless, and colorless in solution, the element is a known carcinogen and can be detected in water only through testing.

The source of South Asia's arsenic contamination is the Himalaya Mountains. Minerals from rocks, eroding coal seams, and sediments contain arsenic and are carried into the major rivers that flow out of the mountains, including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irawaddy, Meghna, Mekong, and Red rivers. The flat, low-lying floodplains of these major rivers are the areas affected by groundwater contamination.

A logical solution is to dig deeper wells to reach uncontaminated aquifers for supplying safe drinking water. However, farmers also want access to this water to irrigate their rice paddies. And that's a problem, according to Michael's research.

In 2008, Michael showed through numerical modeling of groundwater flow in the Bengal Basin that an uncontaminated domestic well more than 500 feet (150 meters) could remain arsenic-free for at least a thousand years. However, she projected an entirely different scenario for deep irrigation wells, which use mechanized pumps instead of hand pumps to bring groundwater to the surface. The high volumes of water drawn by these irrigation systems induced a much faster downward migration of arsenic-contaminated surface water into the deep aquifer.

"To protect drinking water from arsenic contamination, we recommend that deeper wells only be used by individual households for drinking water and not for crop irrigation," Michael says.

In addition to preserving deep wells specifically for drinking water, she and her co-authors also recommend these measures:

  • Reinvigorating well-testing campaigns by governments and international organizations.
  • Better use of existing geological data and the compilation of test results to target zones that are low in arsenic for the installation of community wells.
  • The re-testing of tens of thousands of deep wells, particularly those that have been used for both domestic and farming purposes.
  • The choice of mitigation option can be situation-dependent: filters or other alternatives may be the best choice in some areas.

"Obviously, arsenic-contaminated drinking water is a huge problem from a human health perspective," Michael says. "We've shown that there are some viable options in South Asia, but there is much more that we need to understand."

Currently, Michael is working to model arsenic transport, how it may move in the future in the aquifer system in Bangladesh. She also is working with the World Bank on a study of groundwater sustainability in Bangladesh related to water supply and vulnerability of coastal groundwater to sea-level rise.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tracey Bryant
tbryant@udel.edu
302-831-8185
University of Delaware
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers report no difference in breast cancer characteristics after oophorectomy
2. Vanderbilt researchers play major role in new center on electronic health information privacy
3. Pitt researchers discover gene mutation linked to lymphatic dysfunction
4. Researchers validate a new test for assessing childrens and teenagers fitness to prevent morbidity
5. Novel anti-malarial drug candidate found by UT Southwestern researchers
6. Mount Sinai researchers move closer to a universal influenza vaccine
7. MIT researchers develop better way to detect food allergies
8. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation National Event Helping Women Manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Two Women Physician Experts and Researchers in IBD on Interactive Webcast/Teleconference
9. Mayo Clinic researchers find gene they believe is key to kidney cancer
10. Researchers get $3.3 million grant to investigate language outcomes of bilingual children
11. Mayo Clinic researchers find genetic secrets to common kidney cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers offer solutions to poisonous well-water crisis in southern Asia
(Date:12/4/2016)... ... 03, 2016 , ... Penrose Senior Care Auditors® was announced ... evening at the 26th Annual SMU Cox Dallas 100™ Awards Ceremony and Banquet ... for Entrepreneurship. Dallas 100™, co-founded by the Caruth Institute, honors the ingenuity, commitment ...
(Date:12/4/2016)... , ... December 04, 2016 , ... ... major cosmetic surgery can now take advantage of a cosmetic procedure known as ... rejuvenation treatment that reduces the appearance of age spots, fine lines, uneven ...
(Date:12/4/2016)... PITTSBURGH, PA (PRWEB) , ... December 04, 2016 , ... ... not enough. One must brush properly to achieve optimal results. This important necessity inspired ... saw a need for a way to ensure that people break or avoid bad ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... ... Lori G. Cohen and Sara K. Thompson , shareholders in ... Conference Institute’s 21st Drug & Medical Device Litigation Conference , taking place in New ... Cohen, who chairs the firm’s Pharmaceutical, Medical Device & Health Care Litigation Practice and ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... DIEGO, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... December 02, 2016 , ... ... Event at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego honoring the 2016 MPN Heroes—eight individuals ... myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) by going above and beyond the standard of care, demonstrating leadership ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/5/2016)... Health and Gateway Health proudly announce a dynamic collaboration that ... plan members with specific high risk needs. In ... group of consumers, Wellbridge combines technology and population expertise with ... members, daily behaviors and lifestyle. ... , , ...
(Date:12/5/2016)...  New research by the CVS Health (NYSE: ... U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office ... (ASPR), published online today in JAMA Internal ... patients with chronic conditions to refill medications prior ... affirms that public-private partnerships can facilitate timely pharmacy ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... 5, 2016  BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: ... company, will demonstrate an enhanced technology platform designed with ... the company,s leading Pyxis™ and Alaris™ systems, at this ... Midyear Meeting being held in Las ... national data show that approximately 68 percent of medication ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: