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(B) Arsenic groundwater contamination status in Bangladesh

Out of 20 incidents of groundwater arsenic contamination in worldwide, the magnitude is considered highest in Bangladesh. We began our work in Bangladesh during 1995. At that time we had identified only 3 affected villages in 2 police stations of 2 districts. Our current data shows arsenic level above 50 µg/l in 2000 villages, 178 police stations of 50 affected districts in Bangladesh.
The area and population of 50 districts of Bangladesh are 118849 km2 and 104.9 million respectively. This does not mean that all are drinking arsenic contaminated water and suffering from arsenic related diseases but no doubt they are at risk. A summary of our last 7 years survey report on Bangladesh is presented in Table 1.

We have so far analyzed 34000 hand tube-well water samples from Bangladesh by FI-HG-AAS, of which 56% contained arsenic above 10 µg/l and 37% arsenic above 50 µg/l. Our estimation shows at least 25 million people are drinking arsenic contaminated water in Bangladesh. British Geological Survey (BGS) estimated that 35 million people in Bangladesh are at present drinking water contaminated with arsenic above 50 µg/l. So far we have 18841 people had been screened in Bangladesh from 244 villages and 19.8% have been registered with arsenical skin lesions.

Table 1: Present Arsenic Groundwater Contamination Status in Bangladesh

Physical parameters Bangladesh
Area in sq. km 148,393
Population in million 120
Total number of districts 64
Total number of water samples analyzed 34000
% of samples having arsenic > 10 µg /l 56.35
% of samples having arsenic > 50 µg /l 37.38
No. of arsenic affected districts (groundwater arsenic above 50 µg /l) 50
Population of arsenic affected districts in million 104.9
Area of arsenic affected districts in sq. km 118849
Number of arsenic affected Blocks / Police Station 178
Number of arsenic affected villages (approx.) where groundwater arsenic above 50 µg /l 2,000
People drinking arsenic contaminated water > 50 µg /l (in million) 25
Districts surveyed for arsenic patients 34
Patients found from surveyed districts 31
People screened for arsenic patients (preliminary survey) 18841
Number of registered patients with clinical manifestations 3725 (19.77%)
% of children having arsenical skin lesions of total patients 6.12
Total hair, nail, urine, skin-scales analyzed 10496
Arsenic above normal level (average) in biological samples 93%


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