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(C) Future Danger

• Arsenic is more toxic to children than adults. In arsenic affected areas of West Bengal hundreds of school tubewells are arsenic contaminated. Boys and girls are drinking from many tube-wells arsenic contaminated water till today. Example: Betai High School has total students 2600 and all students were drinking water from 2 hand tubewells having arsenic concentration 236 µg/l and 287 µg/l respectively (analyzed on 19th September, 2002). Arsenic concentration in drinking water recommend by WHO is 10 µg/l and according to National Research Council of America the probability of cancer risk to those drinking arsenic concentration in water for life time having arsenic 50 µg/l is 1.3 per 100 persons.

• Arsenic has already entered in food chain where arsenic contaminated water is used for irrigation. Our calculation shows that only in Deganga block of area 200 sq. km from 2300 of arsenic contaminated hand tubewells in use for irrigation, 64 tons of arsenic is falling on irrigated land per year. To our estimation in arsenic affected areas of Kolsur village of Deganga, North 24-Parganas those consuming paddy and vegetable irrigated with arsenic contaminated water in average consuming 200 µg of arsenic per day from food material.

• Social problems are the biggest difficulties that result from arsenic poisoning in villages of West Bengal. The prevailing social problems in villages are:

  1. Affected wives are sent back, sometimes with their children, to their parents.
  2. Marriage of people of either sex from the affected villages has become a serious problem.
  3. It has been noted that jobs/services have been denied/ignored to the arsenic affected persons.
  4. It has been observed that when a husband or wife has been singled out as an arsenic patient, the social problems crop up and destroy the social fabric.
  5. Due to ignorance, the villagers sometime view it as a case of leprosy and force the arsenic patient to maintain an isolated life or avoid him socially in wherever possible. It is a social curse and human tragedy.

During our analysis of water ampules in use for life saving drugs in West Bengal, we have found that in many companies water ampules contain arsenic above permissible level of arsenic in drinking water when water in injection ampules should be free from all contamination.


Fluorosis in Assam

The first case of endemic fluorosis in human from India was reported by Short et al. in 1937 from Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. Until 1950 four states of India - Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh had been identified where people are suffering from fluorosis. Till 1986, 13 states have been found as endemic for fluorosis in India. However, during 1990-92, two additional states, i.e. Kerala and Jammu & Kashmir had also been identified as endemic for the disease2. The report published by Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission, 1994, reported 14 states and Union Territory Delhi is endemic for fluorosis. In the same report it was mentioned that in West Bengal and seven northern hill states, "disease not detected yet". However from the proceedings of a national conference and report of a daily news paper published during 1999 the groundwater fluoride contamination and sufferings of people from Birbhum district of West Bengal and Karbi Anglong district of Assam came to lime light. In a recent publication the present over all status of groundwater fluoride contamination and sufferings of people in India has been reported by A.K. Susheela. In the same report it is stated," an estimated 62 million people in India in 17 out of 32 states are affected with dental, skeletal/or nonskeletal fluorosis."

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