Water of Death: How Arsenic is Poisoning Rural Communities in India | Global development

NPankaj Rai’s family members have died of cancer in the last 20 years. But the 25-year-old Bihar farmer only found out that he had died of arsenic poisoning when his father fell ill.

In 2017, Pankaj took his father, Ganesh Rai, to the Mahavir Cancer Institute and Research Center in Patna. Ganesh had stage 4 kidney cancer. But Dr. Arun Kumar, a scientist at the institute, identified severe skin lesions on his body as a sign of arsenic poisoning.

Pankaj’s sister and several villagers also suffered from skin lesions and gastric ulcers but did not know the cause.

Kumar and his team visited the family’s home in the village of Sibalpur, east of Patna, where they moved in 2000. They analyzed groundwater samples and for hair samples, where arsenic could accumulate during long-term exposure.

In April, he published his Results. The team discovered high levels of arsenic in groundwater – 244ug / l. World Health Organization Recommended limit 10ug / l. Approximately 90% of hair samples exceed the allowable level of 0.2mg / kg. The highest arsenic level in the hair was 35.5 mg / kg.

They also found six people who had participated in their research, who had died of cancer, including Pankaj’s father.

Listed by Arsenic WHO Such as 10 Biggest Health Care Chemicals. is about 300 million People around the world are affected by arsenic-contaminated groundwater. The most important of these are Indians and people living in Bangladesh.

Arsenic pollution is found in communities across India Increased 145% in the last five years

Arsenic is found naturally and can live in the soil and rocks due to climatic processes in the surroundings.

“Our studies show a direct link between arsenic and cancer,” says Ashok Kumar Ghosh, a scientist and president of the Bihar State Pollution Control Board.

High levels of arsenic are also associated with groundwater Nervous And Heart Illness, and other serious health concerns.

In 1990, arsenic contamination spread to West Bengal and later to Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Manipur in India. A study in Bihar found high levels of arsenic in water samples Hand pump Installed to access groundwater for drinking.

“In the plains of the Ganges [an extensive stretch of land in the country’s central north] Kumar says people are unaware that they are using arsenic-contaminated water and getting sick.

According to Ghosh, arsenic-contaminated groundwater in Bihar has killed more than one million people. “In 18 of the 38 districts, the arsenic level is above the permissible limit of 10ug / l. We have recorded levels of up to 760 yog / l.”

Lemanji Ojha, a 70-year-old retired farmer from Samaria Ojha Patti village, has been suffering from liver cirrhosis for the past 25 years. His village was the first city in Bihar Reports Arsenic pollution, with levels up to 1,650ug / L. “Since I have this disease, I am not able to eat well despite being hungry due to stomach problems,” he added, adding that he believes that everyone in the village has somehow Has a digestive problem.

But action has been taken after a complaint was lodged with the National Human Rights Commission of India by the Inner Voice Foundation, a research organization based in Uttar Pradesh.

The organisation’s founder, Sorbh Singh, filed a complaint after discovering that children in the district were drinking high levels of arsenic-laden water after inspecting school pipes.

If they have to deal with it for more than five or six years, they will be affected. This is a big crisis. Studies show that exposure to arsenic can impair brain development, memory and intelligence Children.

Skin lesions from arsenic poisoning
Skin lesions from arsenic poisoning Photographer: Dr. Arun Kumar

In 2019, the Rights Commission of India directed West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to address the issue.

The Bihar state government says it will set up a task force to prevent, detect and manage arsenic poisoning. They even started it Of every house جل (Tap water for every home) project, which aims to provide clean and safe piped water.

A water quality database is being developed and awareness programs are being run in West Bengal to survey arsenic-contaminated sites through the Geographical Information System.

In 2019, the Indian government introduced it Jal Jeevan MissionThe aim is to provide clean drinking water through taps to rural households by 2024.

In the event of a national lockdown last year due to the epidemic, Kumar’s team installed an arsenic filtration pump at Pankaj’s house in Sibalpur. Although he has not been able to return to assess the effects, Pankaj says the symptoms of dealing with weapons have improved. “My younger sister’s skin lesions have decreased over the last year,” says Pankaj. “If things improve, I hope she gets married soon, and her dreams of becoming a successful businessman Will get

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