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Arsenic Crisis News Mar 03 V3 N05

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  • dr_sara_bennett
    ===================================================================== Arsenic Crisis News March 2003 V3 N05
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 9, 2003
      Arsenic Crisis News
      March 2003 V3 N05

      + From the Editor

      + Recent & Upcoming Meetings & Conferences
      Updated Conference Web Pages & Sites

      + Selected Recent Media Articles Online

      + New & Newly-Discovered Scientific & Technical
      Publications On & Off Line

      + New & Newly-Discovered Web Sites & Web Pages
      Updated Web Sites & Web Pages

      + New & Newly Discovered Real World Stuff

      + Publication & Other Details


      ACN is published by the Arsenic Crisis Info Centre, (c) ACIC.
      Website http://www.bicn.com/acic. Editor Sara Bennett.

      Email addresses appear in this newsletter with a space before &
      after the @ symbol. To send email to an address, you must first
      remove the spaces.

      To visit long URLs that spill over onto more than one line, cut and
      paste the *entire* URL (all lines of it) into the address pane of
      your browser. Generally clicking on such URLs does *not* work.

      See end of message for how to subscribe, unsubscribe, submit, etc.


      Continuation of ACIC beyond June 2003: It looks like it may be
      possible to come up with arrangements for a new 'home' for ACIC at a
      Bangladeshi organization with funding through a donor-assisted
      arsenic project here in Bangladesh. This is currently still at the
      'idea' stage but it looks promising.


      Recent conference

      The Fifth International India Bangladesh Symposia 2003, 2-3 March
      (Calcutta) & 5-6 March (Dhaka): Reducing the Impact of Toxic
      Contamination on Bengal Basin Economies

      The International Institute of Bengal Basin (IIBB) and the Centre on
      Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) are
      organizing the 5th Symposium on Reducing the Impact of Toxic
      Contamination on Bengal Basin Economies in Calcutta, West Bengal,
      India (2-3 March 2003-tentative*) and Dhaka, Bangladesh (5-6 March

      Groundwater, which is used as main source of drinking water in
      Bengal Basin, was found to be contaminated with arsenic and other
      toxic poisons. The arsenic presence in the surface water in this
      region is higher than any other regions in the world. Arsenic and
      other toxics have serious harmful effects on human health and
      environment. Arsenic and toxic poisoning is widespread in the Bengal
      Basin resulting in the largest toxic poisoning in the history of
      mankind. About 70 million or one-third of the population of the
      Basin are affected and suffer from various diseases, such as warts,
      skin lesions and cancers. This serious water problem can be
      attributed to the combination of ineffective water resource
      management, industrialization, and the rapid increase of population.
      In the recent past, several international and national meetings and
      symposia addressed these issues, which were attended by many experts
      in the field. IIBB shall continue working towards finding cost-
      effective solutions to address this toxic crisis. If the combined
      efforts of scholars, experts, and communities are successful in
      mitigating the water and environmental crisis then it is possible to
      use this experience as a working model for other emerging economies.

      The two-day program in both locations will feature paper
      presentations and discussions on three thematic areas:

      Theme1: Toxic Crisis - Effects and Impacts on Bengal Basin Economies
      Theme 2: Toxic Crisis and Response to the Crisis
      Theme 3: Dealing with the Toxic Crisis - Future Perspectives and

      Topics will include: arsenic contamination of groundwater, arsenic
      mitigation and removal, technologies, hydrology, geology,
      identification and protection of damaged aquifers and protection of
      the unaffected production aquifers, epidemiology, environmental
      consequences, toxicology, relationship between the surface and
      groundwater impact of annual flood on Bengal basin and other South
      Asian countries, impact of pesticides on surface and ground water
      and on the food chain, impacts of air pollutants on public and
      environmental health and health affects., ecology and health of
      Bengal basin's rivers, estuaries and bay of Bengal, canopy
      chemistry, nutrient cycling, wood productivity and mangrove forests.

      For more information, see

      Upcoming conferences

      The 3rd World Water Forum: Technological and Policy Dimensions of
      Arsenic Contamination in the Asian Region

      Water Supply, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Water Pollution, Sunday, 16
      March 2003, Kyoto International Conference Hall (KICH), Suehiro
      Room, Kyoto, Japan

      Co-organized by United Nations University (UNU), United Nations
      Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), National
      Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Bangladesh University of
      Engineering and Technology (BUET). Session Convener: Dr. Zafar
      Adeel, UNU. Session Chairs: Prof. Motoyuki Suzuki (UNU) and Ms.
      Vanessa Tobin (UNICEF)

      15:45-16:00 Opening Remarks - Prof. Hans van Ginkel, UN Under-
      Secretary General and UNU Rector

      16:00-16:20 The arsenic crisis in the Asian region and UNU's role -
      Dr. Zafar Adeel, UNU

      16:20-16:40 Arsenic remediation initiatives by UNICEF in Bangladesh
      and India - Dr. Colin Davis, UNICEF Bangladesh

      16:40-17:00 Health-related challenges of the arsenic crisis - Mr.
      Hiroki Hashizume, WHO

      17:20-17:40 Policy options adopted by the Government of Bangladesh -
      Prof. Feroze Ahmed, BUET

      17:40-18:00 Future research directions for arsenic remediation - Dr.
      Minichinori Kabuto, NIES

      18:00-18:30 Open discussion and formulation of recommendations

      [From http://www.unu.edu/env/Arsenic/WWFSession.htm ]

      Invitation and Call for Papers - Advances in Arsenic Research:
      Integration of Experimental and Observational Studies and
      Implications for Mitigation

      To be held at the 226th Annual Meeting of the American Chemical
      Society, New York, NY 7-11 September, 2003

      Dear colleagues:

      You are cordially invited to submit abstracts for this symposium,
      sponsored by the Division of Geochemistry (GEOC).

      The discovery in recent years of numerous water supplies worldwide
      affected by arsenic at concentrations above acceptable health levels
      has prompted a plethora of research directed at understanding the
      occurrence, distribution, and mobilization of arsenic in the
      environment, and spurred the development of cost-effective treatment

      This special session will focus on bridging the gap between
      different approaches and scales of investigation, and fostering a
      more unified understanding of arsenic occurrence and behavior.
      Papers on arsenic-related research encompassing geological,
      geochemical, hydrological, microbiological, and ecological aspects
      are welcome, in particular studies emphasizing the integration of
      basic research with mitigation and remediation strategies.

      Abstracts may be submitted online at: http://oasys.acs.org/
      Deadline for online abstract submission: May 11,2003
      Deadline for hardcopy abstract submission: April 28 2003

      Check the Geochemistry Division web site for updates:

      For additional information contact the organizers:

      Peggy O'Day
      Arizona State University

      Dimitri Vlassopoulos
      S.S. Papadopulos and Associates, Inc.

      Liane Benning
      University of Leeds

      Conference papers now online

      Papers Presented At International Symposium on Fate of Arsenic in
      Environment, Dhaka 5-6 February 2003

      This symposium was jointly organized by International Training
      Network (ITN) - Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
      (BUET), and Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme -
      The United Nations University (UNU), Tokyo, Japan.

      For the full text of these papers, see

      Titles & Authors:

      Arsenic Occurrence in Drinking Water of I.R of Iran: The Case of
      Kurdistan Province. M. Mosaferi, M. Yunesian, A. Mesdaghinia, A.
      Nadim, S. Nasseri and A. H. Mahvi.

      Fate of Arsenic Extracted With Groundwater. M. Ashraf Ali, A. B. M.
      Badruzzaman, M. A. Jalil, M. Delwar Hossain, M. Feroze Ahmed,
      Abdullah Al Masud, Md. Kamruzzaman and M. Azizur Rahman.

      Influence of Upstream Sediment on Arsenic Contamination of
      Groundwater in Bangladesh. Mohammod Aktarul Islam Chowdhury, M.
      Feroze Ahmed and M. Ashraf Ali.

      Can Water Storage Habits Influence the Cancer Risk of Drinking
      Arsenic Contaminated Water? Anitha Kumari Sharma and Jens Christian

      Arsenic Enrichment in Estuarine Sediments - Impact of Iron and
      Manganese Mining. Maheswari Nair, T. Joseph, K.K. Balachandran,
      K.K.C.Nair and J. S. Paimpillil.

      Extent and Severity of Arsenic Contamination in Soils of
      Bangladesh. S. M. Imamul Huq, Anisur Rahman, Nazma Sultana and Ravi

      Arsenic in Plant-Soil Environment in Bangladesh. M. Ashraf Ali, A.
      B. M. Badruzzaman, M. A. Jalil, M. Delwar Hossain, M. Feroze Ahmed,
      Abdullah Al Masud, Md. Kamruzzaman and M. Azizur Rahman.

      A Study of Arsenic Contaminated Irrigation Water and its Carried
      Over Effect on Vegetable. A. T. M. Farid, K. C. Roy, K. M. Hossain
      and R. Sen.

      Arsenic Concentration of Rice in Bangladesh. Hiromi Hironaka and
      Sk. Akhtar Ahmad.

      Accumulation of Arsenic in Rice Plant from Arsenic Contaminated
      Irrigation Water and Effect on Nutrient Content. Md. Zahangir Alam
      and Md. Mujibur Rahman.

      Arsenic Contamination of Soil and Water and Related Biohazards in
      Bangladesh. H. K. Das, D. A. Chowdhury, S. Rahman and Obaidullah,
      M. U. Miah, P. Sengupta and F. Islam.

      Fate of Arsenic in Wastes Generated From Arsenic Removal Units. M.
      Ashraf Ali, A. B. M. Badruzzaman, M. A. Jalil, M. Feroze Ahmed, Md.
      Kamruzzaman, M. Azizur Rahman and Abdullah Al Masud.

      Leaching of Arsenic from Wastes of Arsenic Removal Systems. A. B.
      M. Badruzzaman.

      Leaching of Arsenic from Iron Oxide Impregnated Brick Sands (Shapla
      Filter Media) Using Common Chemicals and Water. M. Fakhrul Islam,
      M. Moklesur Rahman and Sad Ahamed.

      Effects of Using Arsenic-Iron Sludge in Brick Making. Md. Abdur
      Rouf and Md. Delwar Hossain.

      Third International India Bangladesh Symposium, "On reducing the
      impact of toxic chemicals in the Bengal Basin," 10-12 Feb Calcutta &
      14-16 Feb 2001 Dhaka

      Abstracts now available online at


      Articles from other sources than News From Bangladesh are presented
      first, then the NFB articles. Within these two categories article
      appear by publication date, most recent first.

      Arsenic warning to watercress gatherers
      28 January 2003

      Aquatic plants may provide an answer to problems with arsenic-
      contaminated drinking water, Hortresearch scientist Brent Robinson
      said yesterday.

      High arsenic levels have been blamed for some types of cancer.

      Dr Robinson said a survey of aquatic plants from geothermal regions
      around Taupo and Rotorua, and the Waikato River, had shown they were
      accumulating concentrations of up to 3000 parts per million of

      "This may be a low-cost means of improving public health in
      countries like Bangladesh and West Bengal in India, where there are
      high levels of arsenic in the water that can result in widespread

      Dr Robinson said the survey could also have health implications for
      New Zealanders who gathered large quantities of watercress for
      eating in streams fed with geothermal water.

      The discovery of levels of up to 3000 parts per million of arsenic
      in the aquatic plants was " an extraordinary find, and quite
      disturbing as people eat watercress," he said in a statement.

      Watercress from uncontaminated streams that had no geothermal water
      flowing into them was probably safe to eat.

      "We would like to find out how these aquatic plants accumulate
      arsenic, and whether they could be used to remove arsenic from
      drinking water," he said.

      In New Zealand, arsenic has also been recorded as a significant
      problem at an estimated 10,000 former sheep dip sites and in sawdust
      and wood shavings at former timber treatment sites.

      d=85174 ]


      Arsenic shrinks safe water access - 20 Feb 2003

      By Naimul Haq

      High percentage of arsenic-affected tubewells in rural areas has
      shrunk overall access to safe drinking water. According to
      available statistics, 75 per cent of the population has access to
      safe drinking water now, down from 97 per cent in 1997. Whereas the
      national water policy requires one 'safe water point' for every
      fifty people, the ratio now is 100 to one.

      Sources say 3,571 out of 109,022 deep tubewells that can supply safe
      drinking water are now out of order. Also, 45,025 out of 1,057,267
      hand-pumped tubewells are inoperative. The percentage of arsenic-
      affected tubewells is more than 90 in Chandpur, Narayanganj,
      Noakhali, Laxmipur and Chapainawabganj, and between 20 and 40 in
      Faridpur, Gopalganj, Comilla, Jessore, Khulna, Barisal, Rajshahi,
      Natore and Naogaon.

      In one Chandpur upazila, Hajiganj, all the tubewells are
      contaminated. On average, there are some 30,000 tubewells in one
      upazila. Presence of arsenic in groundwater beyond the World Health
      Organisation standard was first detected in 1993. Three years later,
      the government declared arsenic contamination a national disaster.

      Twenty-nine per cent of some 1.2 million tubewells the Department of
      Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) installed are arsenic-
      contaminated. Alternative arrangements for safe drinking water in
      the affected areas, provided by the government, are mostly
      insignificant and confined to a few families. Although the
      government encourages use of surface water, filtered with locally
      developed technique, and water from wells, people find it
      inconvenient and revert to the tubewell water despite arsenic

      Meanwhile in 1998-99, the DPHE and the British Geological Survey
      detected high levels of uranium, manganese, boron, sulphur,
      fluoride, molybdenum, barium and phosphorus in groundwater samples
      from 61 districts. "We don't have laboratories facility now to test
      water for these chemicals," DPHE Executive Engineer Ihtishamul Huq
      told The Daily Star.

      In Dhaka city, low levels of arsenic, antimony, boron, cadmium,
      nickel, chromium, molybdenum and uranium have also been detected in
      piped water. "If you consider the DPHE-BGS report and recent
      surveys on tubewells, groundwater in only a few areas in the
      northern districts are free from chemical poisoning," said an

      "The fact is, the government machinery has no system to determine
      the number of arsenic-contaminated tubewells. They are just relying
      on estimates that have no relevance," observed another. (The Daily


      Over 60 pc of country "have arsenic in groundwater" - 19 Feb 2003

      Over 60 per cent of Bangladesh has shown signs of deadly arsenic
      contamination in its groundwater. A study on "Water Availability
      and Usage Regime in Rural Bangladesh: commissioned under Sustainable
      Environmental Management Programme (SEMP) of the Ministry of
      Environment and Forest revealed this finding Tuesday. UN
      Development Programme (UNDP) is funding the SEMP. The study has also
      stated that the water-abundant country is facing a serious shortage
      of water for irrigation and drinking purposes....

      Since groundwater is generally perceived safe for drinking, some of
      the traditional water purification and storage practices have all
      but vanished, the report alleged. Unfortunately, the country now
      faces a massive and pervasive arsenic contamination in its
      groundwater aquifers, it said. (The Financial Express)


      Arsenic Poisoning - A National And Personal Tragedy - 17 Feb 2003

      By Sylvia Mortoza

      After reading what Dr M I Zuberi of the University of Rajshahi has
      to say about arsenic poisoning, we all have a very vivid picture of
      what is going on in numerous villages throughout Bangladesh. This
      is of increasing concern especially as we know about 29 million
      people are still drinking water containing arsenic in excess of 50
      ug/L even though many years have passed since its discovery.

      Although Dr Zuberi reports specifically on the findings of one of
      his students - a member of the Arsenic Mitigation Group (AMGRU) of
      the university - when he paid a visit to his village in Sarishabari
      Upazila, Jamalpur, the same may be said for many, if not all the
      villages in Bangladesh. At his village, Izarapara, and its
      neighboring village Gibindanagar, the people, indeed the whole of
      this district is badly affected by arsenic contamination.

      These particular villages are large as villages go and have between
      3000 to 4000 inhabitants each. Although the student could examine
      only a sample of ten families, they were representative of the rest
      of the village. He found most of those above the age of 18 to 20
      have been affected by ingesting arsenic and have the telltale spots,
      warts and ulcerations. One member had an ulcer on his leg. The leg
      was later amputated but even that drastic measure was not enough to
      save his life.

      The sad part of the story is that as reported by the villagers, they
      have had these symptoms for several years but was not aware of the
      cause, that is arsenic in the drinking water. But that is not the
      end of the story. The people of village Izarapara drank water from
      six hand-pumped tubewells but when the Department of Public Health
      and Engineering (DPHE) tested them for arsenic in 2001, they were
      all found highly contaminated.

      Although the DPHE labeled and sealed some tube wells, the villagers
      resunk four to a deeper depth. The DPHE also planned to sink one
      tubewell to 300 feet but they could not go deeper than 265 feet
      because they hit hard rock. But to the disappointment of the
      villagers, when tested for arsenic by the DPHE, all the newly sunk
      tubewells were also found to contain arsenic at levels above the
      recommended 0.05 mg/L.

      Before leaving the village, the official told the villagers not to
      drink water from these tubewells and then he left without providing
      any alternative supply source of drinking water. The result is
      villagers have to continue to drink this water because not only are
      there any alternatives, they have also not been provided with a
      technology that would at least reduce the amount of arsenic.

      This is bad enough in it, but worse is yet to come because,
      according to the villagers, a Japanese team also came to the village
      and examined the water and saw the affected people too. They also
      asked them not to drink the water from these tubewells but without
      putting anything else in place. Some reported they were promised
      help, but as nothing happened, they continue to drink the
      contaminated water.

      Now that the members of this group are planning to help these
      villagers get filters for reducing arsenic in the water, and are
      endeavouring to find other sources of arsenic-free water for them,
      there is some hope for those villagers who have not yet affected.
      But the sick will not find solace from this as though they will be
      given treatment and food-therapy to alleviate the toxicity, those
      who have already gone past the point of no return will not be

      When Dr Zuberi and his student re-visited this village this year he
      was accompanied by Dr Alauddin, a member of the Faculty of Wagner
      College, New York (USA), an analytical chemist who has done a great
      deal of research on arsenic, in the hope of providing them with
      filters and collecting some field data. But that was not possible
      as the filters were not available for distributing.

      The result of tests carried out on water samples collected from 8
      tube wells of the village was available however. Four were highly
      contaminated (304, 270, 226 and 107 ug/l ) and three with low (two
      <2.0 and one 8.6 ug/l). Though the visitors suggested the villagers
      have two dug-wells in their locality, they were more interested in
      having an arsenic filter each.

      The search is still on for an effective and sustainable solution
      that is culturally acceptable, it is with a tinge of sadness that
      some technologies already proven effective, are not being made
      available because of bureaucratic hang-ups or red tape.

      One particular technology that is "home grown" in the sense it has
      been designed by a Bangladeshi scientist for the express purpose of
      helping his brethren overcome the arsenic problem has still not been
      sanction as for sale to affected villagers. In fact, according to
      reliable reports, the authorities insist nothing can be placed on
      the market or even given away, without a certificate from BSCIR even
      though they may have passed the environmental tests of BAMWSP/OCETA,
      the Canadian environmental technology verification project. But if,
      as reported, BCSIR is not in a position to test new technologies for
      another six months, should people be deprived of this for some
      bureaucratic hand up?

      Moreover, there is little effort underway to discover the
      preferences of rural households but one thing can be gleaned -
      people are reluctant to accept a technology that is less convenient
      than the tubewell. People will opt for either piped water or
      tubewell water whether or not it contains arsenic and this is the
      major problem because it is clear that the level of awareness among
      the people about arsenic and its health hazards is too low and now
      that arsenic is also building up in the soil from irrigation and is
      moving fast into the crops, the arsenic hazard is about to increase.

      After all, rice is our staple crop. It provides people with 70
      percent of their daily intake of calories and though it is grown
      mainly under rain fed conditions, when rice is irrigated by
      groundwater that is contaminated, it will affect the crops. With
      the demand for food grains expected to grow by 2.5 per cent per
      annum in the next 10-20 years, maintaining the sanctity of our rice
      crop will be all but impossible.

      What this could mean for people is clear and the failure to pay
      attention to this aspect of arsenic contamination is an unforgivable
      oversight because as early as 1997 scientists were saying it could
      happen, some said it would happen, and that the crops will get
      tainted and will in turn taint the meat of the animals we eat, but
      did any of us listen?


      UNICEF chief wants all tubewells tested by next year - 9 Feb 2003

      Unicef representative in Bangladesh Morten Giersing urged Saturday
      the authorities concerned to test all tubewells across the country
      within the next one year to help tackle the arsenic problem, reports

      "Bangladesh was exceptionally successful in providing safe water to
      people. But the arsenic problem has spoiled that success. It's a
      dramatic problem but we need to scale it down because the people
      suffer from horrific sickness once they become exposed to the
      disease," the Unicef representative said while addressing a seminar
      on "Water and Sustainable Development" at the National Press Club in
      the city in the city.

      Minister for Water Resources L K Siddiqui inaugurated the seminar as
      the chief guest. Chairman of Media Network for Sustainable
      Development (MNSD) Shamsuddin Ahmed, Executive Director Technology
      Syed Shah Habib Ullah, officer in charge of UNIC Kazi Ali Reza,
      Feroz Ahmed of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
      (BUET), former director general of Bangladesh Water Development
      Board (BWDB) engineer Asaduzzaman and head of water and environment
      division of Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad (BUP) Ahsan U Ahmed, among
      others, spoke on the occasion.

      The MNSD organised the seminar in association with the UNICEF and
      the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in the city to create awareness
      about significance of the year 2003 as the International Year of
      Fresh Water. Morten Giersing said arsenic test requires less than
      one dollar per tubewell. He said the Kyoto conference of the World
      Water Forum would introduce "water poverty index." Some Bangladeshi
      children will also visit the conference as participants of the
      children's water forum. Safe water brings down the child mortality
      rate, he said. Morten said Bangladesh can achieve 100 per cent
      sanitation coverage by 2015 if it takes appropriate steps.

      A high-level ministerial conference for Asian nations titled
      "AsiaSan-2003" will be held in Dhaka by September, he added. The
      Water Resources Minister said many water-related problems and issues
      in the developing countries are identical. Like Bangladesh, he
      said, the Chinese people are also facing some water-related

      'The difference is, China has control over their water resource but
      we don't have that level of control,'' the minister said. Siddiqui
      said flood, drought and over-irrigation are annual problems. Feroze
      Ahmed said groundwater is the main source of water supply in urban
      and rural areas. But availability of the groundwater has emerged as
      a problem due to presence of arsenic, excessive dissolved iron,
      salinity in the coastal areas and lowering of the groundwater level
      etc. (BSS)


      Arsenic in vegetables still within limit - 7 Feb 2003

      A research found arsenic accumulation in locally produced
      vegetables, but the concentrations apparently did not exceed the
      acceptable limits. "But arsenic content in some cases is found
      higher in vegetables grown with arsenic contaminated water," said
      Prof. M Feroze Ahmed at the Department of Civil Engineering,
      Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) at a

      Leafy vegetables contained more arsenic than the fruity ones, he
      said while presenting the finds at the conclusion of a two-day
      seminar on "Fate of Arsenic in Environment" held at BUET Council

      A high level of arsenic is found in the roots of rice plants, but
      the concentration is very low in the stem, leaves and husk.
      Besides, arsenic in rice is relatively low, he said.

      A team of local and foreign researchers under the auspices of BUET
      and the United Nations University, Japan found that some vegetables
      were arsenic accumulators. But specification and availability of
      arsenic present in all food items are required to understand the
      possible health effects, Ahmed added.

      Dr. Zafar Adeel at the Department of Civil Engineering of BUET
      presented some recommendations at the seminar. These include
      finding ways to complete mass balance of arsenic in the environment
      and identifying endpoints. (The Daily Star)


      Speakers warn against arsenic in food chain - 6 Feb 2003

      Widespread use of groundwater for irrigation suggests that ingestion
      of crops so produced could be a major source of arsenic poisoning.
      Besides, "phyto-toxicity" due to increased arsenic in soil/water and
      its long-term impact on agricultural yield is an area of concern,
      said speakers at a seminar in the city. And naturally occurring
      arsenic and arsenic-rich wastes, generated from a wide range of
      arsenic removal systems, also pose a threat "In the absence of any
      clear guideline for safe disposal, such wastes are often disposed in
      a very unsafe way", they added.

      The seminar on the" Fate of Arsenic in the Environment," jointly
      organised by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
      (BUET), International Training Netwrok (ITN), Centre for Environment
      and Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme and the United Nations
      University (UNU), was held at the BUET Council Bhaban. Experts from
      India, Japan, Britain, Pakistan and Bangladesh participated at the

      The discussion session was divided into two parts. In the first
      session, experts presented technical papers on the fate of arsenic
      extracted with groundwater, influence of upstream sediment on
      arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh, the cancer risk
      of drinking arsenic -contaminated water and a pilot study in

      M Ashraf Ali presented the paper on the 'fate of arsenic extracted
      with groundwater.' He said although considerable work had been done
      on arsenic removal from contaminated groundwater and alternate water
      supply options, the presence of arsenic in irrigation water did not
      receive due attention.

      And the dependency on groundwater for public water supply and
      irrigation results in a huge quantity of arsenic being cycled
      through the environment each year with major implications on public
      health and the environment, Ashraf Ali concluded.

      In the second session, experts presented papers on arsenic in plant-
      soil environment in Bangladesh, extent and severity of arsenic
      contamination in soils of Bangladesh, a study of arsenic
      contaminated irrigation water and its carried-over effect on
      vegetables, accumulation of arsenic in rice plants from arsenic
      contaminated irrigation water and its effect on nutrient contents,
      arsenic contamination of soil and water and related bio-hazards in
      Bangladesh and the fate of arsenic in wastes generated from arsenic
      removal units.

      BUET Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Alee Murtuza attended the discussion
      as the chief guest, while Dr. Zafar Adeel addressed the seminar as
      the representative of UNU. Prof. M Abdur Rauf, head of the
      department of civil engineering, BUET, chaired the seminar and Prof.
      Dr. M Feroze Ahmed delivered the introductory speech. (The Daily


      Arsenic menace takes serious turn in Jessore - 22 Jan 2003

      Arsenic menace has taken a serious turn in Jessore district in
      recent times. The water of about 65 per cent tube-wells in the four
      upazilas of the district is contaminated with arsenic poison, it is
      learnt from a reliable source. Panic has gripped the people of the
      arsenic affected areas. They do not know how to collect arsenic free
      water from distant areas.

      It is learnt from a source in the district Public Health Department
      that financed by UNICEF Asian Arsenic Network, EPRC, BRAC and some
      other non-government organisations (NGOs) have already completed
      examining hundred per cent government and public tube-wells under
      Sadar, Abhoynagar, Jhikargachha and Monirampur upazilas of the

      Water of 55,564 tube-wells of Sadar upazila was tested. The water of
      9,699 tube-wells was found containing arsenic poison. Of them 144
      tube-wells belonged to the government. The highest number of 70 per
      cent tube-wells of Jhikargachha upazila were found containing
      arsenic. A total of 22,000 tube-wells were tested in Jhikargachha

      Out of the tested total 44,300 tube-wells of Monirampur upazila, 51
      per cent are contaminated with arsenic. Sixty per cent of the total
      tested 15,000 tube-wells of Abhoynagar upazila are arsenic

      It is further learnt that all the tube-wells of Poranpur village in
      Sadr upazila are arsenic contaminated. Most of the tube-wells of
      the village contain 0.5 per cent arsenic, which is above tolerable
      quantity. All those tube-wells have been red-marked.

      Meanwhile, the government has sunk 1,031 arsenic free tube-wells
      including some deep tube-wells under the eight upazilas including
      126 in Sadar upazila, 256 in Monirampur upazila, 171 in Sarsha, 125
      in Keshabpur, 65 in Chowgachha and 51 arsenic free tube-wells in
      Bagharpara upazila. (The Independent)


      Arsenic-free water still piped dream - 22 Jan 2003

      By Naimul Haq

      Even more than six years after the declaration of groundwater
      arsenic contamination a national emergency, the government could not
      provide safe drinking water to affected areas. According to an
      estimate, about eight crore people in 61 districts out of 64 are now
      exposed to arsenic contamination. Some of the districts have
      arsenic more than the permissible level. In many districts, both
      hand-pump tubewells and production wells or deep tubewells were

      Laboratory-tested water samples showed that more than 50 per cent of
      the tubewells -- both private and government-owned -- were found
      contaminated. Four million tubewells have been installed in the
      country since the late 1970s. The government and the World Bank
      (WB) have so far spent Tk 43.91 crore, a portion on mitigation on
      the priority basis in some most affected villages. Still, a large
      number of people have no access to safe drinking water.

      Of the 714 mitigation schemes, as identified by the government, less
      than 100 have been completed. Until now, the project could not
      initiate action programmes on 11 municipalities where arsenic was
      found in production wells above the permissible level of 50 parts
      per billion. However, alternative measures have been taken in
      Gopalganj, Faridpur and Chuadanga municipalities.

      Despite repeated requests, the government has not yet taken any step
      to supply safe drinking water to Chapainawabganj, one of the most
      affected municipalities, where four out of 16 production wells have
      been shut down due to high levels of arsenic. The rest also affected
      beyond the permissible level keep supplying water.

      In February 1999, the WB and the government implemented a 44.4
      million dollars project -- Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water
      Supply (BAMWSP) -- exclusively for safe drinking water. But less
      than 23 per cent of the funds could not be utilised due to
      bureaucratic tangles, mismanagement and corruption. A large portion
      of the money was spent on consultants, goods, training, salaries
      etc. Meanwhile, many villages in Narayanganj, Chandpur, Noakhali,
      Laxmipur, Jessore, Khulna, Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi, Faridpur and
      Comilla identified as 'hot spots' are still without safe drinking
      water options.

      In 1996, soon after the official confirmation and government's
      appeal to donors, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
      extended help in two phases to explore the extent of the crisis. It
      provided two million dollars to screen 500 villages on an emergency
      basis. The UNDP also gave very limited vitamins and ointments for
      treatment of arsenic patients.

      Dr AZM Iftikhar Hossain, the then project director of the UNDP-
      funded project, said, "There is nothing to panic. The lesions on
      skin will disappear if people stop using the contaminated water.
      They have to take vitamins for a quick recovery."

      Dr Alan Smith, a senior consultant of the World Health Organisation
      (WHO), who was invited from the USA to recommend on the possible
      remedies, made similar recommendations which were largely ignored.

      Chandpur is among five most affected districts in the country where
      preliminary surveys showed that 83 per cent of tubewell water had
      concentration of arsenic above the permissible level. Similarly,
      many villagers in Barisal, Jessore and Khulna, with over 90 per cent
      of the tubewells contaminated, have no alternative.

      The Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) in Chandpur
      confirmed detection of arsenic in almost all tubewells tested so
      far. (The Daily Star)


      Arsenic spells danger for millions of Nepalis - 11 Jan 2003

      AFP, Kathmandu

      Millions of Nepalis are at risk from diseases caused by drinking
      water contaminated with the poison arsenic, doctors say. The
      problem is affecting the Terai lowlands, home to 47 percent of
      Nepal's 22.3 million people. "People are suffering from skin and
      other serious diseases due to drinking underground unfiltered water
      laced with arsenic in the Terai region, adjoining the Indian states
      of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh," said Roshan Man Shrestha,
      a doctor with the Public Health Concern Centre non-governmental
      organisation (NGO).

      Some 90 percent of the people living in the region use the
      underground water pumped to the surface by shallow tubewells. A
      survey of Terai's 20 districts from 1997-2001 by the Public Health
      Services NGO, along with experts from the UN children's agency,
      UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), found the water's
      arsenic levels failed WHO standards.

      "Out of some 200,000 shallow tubewells constructed along the
      tropical region, tests on about 20,000 tubewells have been
      conducted," Public Health Concern Centre official Prasant Chaudhary
      told AFP. "After the tests, the amount of 0.01 milligrams to 0.05
      milligrams of arsenic per litre was detected in the underground
      water," Chaudhary said.

      The permissible limit for arsenic in Nepal, as well as in India,
      China and Bangladesh is 0.05 milligrams per litre. But the WHO's
      limit is 0.01 milligrams. "If anybody drinks the water containing
      arsenic for about 10 years, he begins to have a serious health
      problem like skin diseases, deafness, blindness or even liver cancer
      and weakening of the bones," Chaudhary said. Ram Sharan Duwadi, of
      the government's Public Health Department, said villagers in the
      Terai often complained of dizziness and hearing problems which could
      be attributed to arsenic in the water.

      Research on arsenic poisoning first began in Nepal in 1999 following
      similar cases in the neighbouring Indian states of Bihar, West
      Bengal and Uttar Pradesh as well as in Bangladesh. More than a
      dozen arsenic-poisoning investigation units are in operation in
      Nepal, although the exact number of people affected is not
      known. "As such incidents are comparatively recent, most people are
      ignorant about the matter," said Shrestha. ( AFP/ The Daily Star )



      Sorted by year (newest first), alphabetical by title within each


      Dipankar Chakraborti writes: "Environmental Science and Health
      Volume 38, Issue 1, 2003 is a 'Special Issue On Arsenic: Environment
      And Health Aspects With Special Reference To Groundwater In South
      Asia.' Altogether there are 18 articles in the issue with a total
      of 305 pages. The guest editors for the issue are Dipankar
      Chakraborti (INDIA), Abul Hussam (USA), and Mohammad Alauddin (USA)."

      The journal is online at:


      Fighting arsenic at the grassroots: experience of BRAC's community
      awareness initiative in Bangladesh. Health Policy Plan 2003
      Mar;18(1):93-100. Hadi A.

      Abstract: The study evaluates the arsenic mitigation project of
      BRAC in raising awareness of arsenic poisoning in rural communities
      in Bangladesh. Data came from selected project villages in south-
      western Bangladesh. Comparison villages were also selected from the
      same region. A total of 1240 randomly selected adults were
      interviewed in May 2000. Findings reveal that the mitigation
      project played a significant, positive role in raising awareness of
      the safe water options, signs of arsenicosis, mode of transmission
      and the type of treatment. Testing tube-well water for arsenic
      created curiosity, innovation and interest in the community, and the
      water treatment plant became a symbol of the arsenic campaign. The
      study concludes that the behavioural change aspects of the arsenic
      mitigation project have the potential to significantly improve the
      level of understanding about arsenic contamination in the
      traditional communities.

      [ Abstract at
      ed&list_uids=12582112&dopt=Abstract ]

      Arsenic in cooked rice in Bangladesh. Bae M, Watanabe C, Inaoka T,
      Sekiyama M, Sudo N, Bokul MH, Ohtsuka R. Lancet 2002 Dec

      Abstract: In Bangladesh, rice is boiled with an excessive amount of
      water, and the water remaining after cooking will be discarded. We
      did an on-site experiment to assess the effect of this cooking
      method on the amount of arsenic retained in cooked rice. The
      concentration of arsenic in cooked rice was higher than that in raw
      rice and absorbed water combined, suggesting a chelating effect by
      rice grains, or concentration of arsenic because of water
      evaporation during cooking, or both. The method of cooking and
      water used can affect the amount of arsenic in cooked rice, which
      will have implications for the assessment of the health risks of

      [Abstract at
      ed&list_uids=12480363&dopt=Abstract ]

      Arsenic in Drinking Water: 2001 Update. Board on Environmental
      Studies & Toxicology, National Academy Press. xxvi + 226 pp.
      [Update to Arsenic in Drinking Water, 1999.]

      "In this report, the NRC [National Research Council]'s Subcommittee
      to Update the 1999 Arsenic in Drinking Water Report reviews the
      available toxicological, epidemiological, and risk assessment
      literature that has been published since the 1999 report. The
      subcommittee reviewed data for dose-response assessment and risk
      estimation; assessed whether the most recent EPA analysis is
      adequate for estimating an effective dose for a 1% response;
      determined whether EPA's analysis appropriately considers and
      characterizes the available data on the mode of action of arsenic
      and the information on dose-response and uncertainties when
      assessing the public health impacts; and determined whether EPA's
      risk estimates for 3, 5, 10, and 20ug/l of arsenic are consistent
      with available scientific information, including information from
      new studies." - pp. ix-x.

      [Full text of book online at
      http://zoom.nap.edu/books/0309076293/html/index.html ]

      Respiratory effects and arsenic contaminated well water in
      Bangladesh. Milton AH, Rahman M. Int J Environ Health Res 2002

      Abstract: Arsenic in drinking water causes a widespread concern in
      Bangladesh, where a major proportion of tube wells is contaminated.
      Arsenic ingestion causes skin lesions, which is considered as
      definite exposure. A prevalence comparison study of respiratory
      effects among subjects with and without arsenic exposure through
      drinking water was conducted in Bangladesh. Exposed participants
      were recruited through health awareness campaign programs.
      Unexposed participants were randomly selected, where tubewells were
      not contaminated with arsenic. A total of 169 individuals
      participated (44 exposed individuals exhibiting skin lesions; 125
      unexposed individuals). The arsenic concentrations ranged from 136
      to 1000 micro g l(-1). The information regarding respiratory system
      signs and symptoms were also collected and the analyses were
      confined to nonsmokers. The crude prevalence ratio for chronic
      bronchitis and chronic cough amounted to 2.1 (95% CI 0.7-6.1). The
      prevalence ratios for chronic bronchitis increased with increasing
      exposure, i.e., 1.0, 1.6, 2.7 and 2.6 using unexposed as the
      reference. The prevalence ratios for chronic cough were 1.0, 1.6,
      2.7 and 2.6 for the exposure categories, using the same unexposed as
      the reference. The dose-response trend was the same (P < 0.1) for
      both conditions. These results add to evidence that long-term
      ingestion of arsenic exposure can cause respiratory effects.

      [Abstract at
      ed&list_uids=12400554&dopt=Abstract ]

      Willingness to pay for arsenic-free, safe drinking water in rural
      Bangladesh : methodology and results. Ahmad, J.K. et al, 2002.
      Field note / Water and Sanitation Program. New Delhi, India : Water
      and Sanitation Program - South Asia. 16 p. : 2 fig., photogr., 4
      tab. 12 ref.

      Brief description of a study on willingness to pay for arsenic-free,
      safe drinking water in rural Bangladesh which investigated the
      factors that influence demand for arsenic-free, safe drinking water
      and examined preferences regarding household/community-based arsenic
      mitigation technologies. The focus of this report is on the design,
      particularly the methodology used for estimating willingness to pay
      (WTP). The estimates of WTP obtained are presented.

      Some key results of the field survey, together with the main
      findings and policy recommendations, have been published in a
      separate note entitled, 'Fighting arsenic, listening to rural
      communities: findings from a study on willingness to pay for arsenic-
      free, safe drinking water in rural Bangladesh'.

      Full text available online:

      1. Willingness to pay for arsenic-free, safe drinking water in
      rural Bangladesh - methodology and results. At


      2 Fighting arsenic, listening to rural communities - findings from
      a study on willingness to pay for arsenic-free, safe drinking water
      in rural Bangladesh. At



      [None this issue.]


      Offline-only print publications & newsletters, videos, research in
      progress, test kits, removal technologies, etc.

      Suggestions for Preparing a Keratolytic Ointment for Treating
      Arsenic Patients

      [The following suggestions are provided for thought and discussion.
      This is not medical advice and no claim is made by ACIC/ACN, nor by
      the authors (whom I have left unindentified intentionally) for the
      ointment described here. Before using this or any other treatment
      or medicine, you or your organization should get your own medical
      advice on your specific situation. In any case, this ointment only
      helps to manage the discomfort and cracking associated with
      keratosis. It does nothing to treat the cause of the keratosis -
      arsenic ingestion - for which provision of arsenic-free water and
      food are essential. - Ed.]

      Patients suffering from arsenicosis often have keratosis (hardening)
      of the palms and / or soles. If cracking occurs, then infection can
      get in. Also, hard hands or feet can make it difficult for someone
      to work. For these reasons, applying an ointment to make the hands
      and feet softer can be very helpful.

      During the training course "Arsenic in Bangladesh" at ITN / BUET on
      the 19th of May 2002, Dr. Abul Hasnat Milton of the NGO Forum and
      Dr. Quamruzzaman of Dhaka Community Hospital each presented a paper
      on the health effects of arsenic. They mentioned a keratolytic
      ointment of 20% urea and 10 - 20% salicylic acid in cream or

      When we tried to make some for ourselves, we experienced difficulty
      in finding out exactly how to go about it. These suggestions are
      offered to help others who are not medical professionals in case
      they also would like to make some of this ointment.

      We decided to make the following mixture:

      Urea 20% 500 grams
      Salicylic acid 10% 250 grams
      Vaseline 70% 1,750 grams
      Total weight 100% 2,500 grams

      We purchased the urea and salicylic acid in bulk in the Tikatoly
      section of Dhaka. There are a number of scientific suppliers in
      that area. It is good to "shop around" to see who has the most
      recent stock and best prices. We purchased 500 grams of urea (in
      granular form) for Taka 400 ex Loba Chemie (Mumbai). We purchased
      500 grams of urea (in powder form) for Taka 350 ex Loba Chemie

      The minimum quantity available was 500 grams. European brands were
      also available, but they were double the price. We were told that
      the quality of the Indian product was just as good.

      We later purchased the Vaseline in bulk from a wholesale market in
      the district town near where we were working. It cost only a few
      hundred taka. Packaged Vaseline ex the Middle East or Europe in
      Dhaka would have been much more expensive. In purchasing Vaseline
      locally in bulk supply, it is important to ensure that the Vaseline
      is pure.

      We then mixed the urea and salicylic acid into the Vaseline in a
      clean plastic bucket using a stainless steel spoon. Finally, we
      transferred approximately 100 grams of the ointment into 24 small
      plastic containers to give to the patients at a village clinic. We
      found that the urea did not dissolve totally in the Vaseline. It is
      suggested that the urea be ground into powder beforehand for
      smoother mixing.

      Alternatively, there is a company in Dhaka that probably can both
      supply the ingredients and mix them professionally.

      BHAM & CO, Chemists & Druggists, bhamco @ hotmail.com, 7,
      Avenue, Dhaka - 1000. Tel 955-3354

      Recent CEGIS arsenic work

      From Md. Hasan Ali, Cluster Coordinator, Database and IT, Center for
      Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), House 49
      Road 27 Banani, Dhaka (tel 8821570/2 & 8817648/52 x406, email

      "Please be informed that CEGIS (formerly EGIS) recently did two
      major arsenic activities for UNICEF:

      "1) Tubewell location survey and mapping of arsenic contamination
      for tubewells of Bhanga Upazila, Faridpur District; Muradnagar
      Upazila, Comilla District; and Serajdikhan Upazila of Munshiganj

      "2) Arsenic database software development - this is a unique
      database to hold arsenic testing results, to generate user query
      reports, and to provide for database management activities.

      "If you want a summary note or any other information regarding the
      above jobs, please contact me."


      + ACN is published by Sara Bennett from Dhaka. Publication
      schedule: irregular.

      + ACN items may be freely reprinted with this attribution: "Source:
      ACN Arsenic Crisis News - web http://bicn.com/acic - email acic @

      + ACIC/ACN encourages all arsenic crisis stakeholders to submit
      information by email to acic @ bicn.com

      + Other arsenic information services:

      Discussion group at egroups.com -
      arsenic-crisis - combines former groups arsenic-source,
      arsenic-safewater, and arsenic-medical

      Website -

      Includes links to conferences, major media coverage,
      research results, individual researchers, projects,
      organizations, etc. with site search capability.

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