South Asia

Published: Tuesday 15 December 2009

Arsenic source found: US researchers have identified the source of arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh that affects 25 million people in the country. The scientists studied water samples from man-made ponds and rice fields in Munshiganj district, the countrys rice-bowl. They found that water with high arsenic content originated in the man-made ponds while water with lower arsenic content came from the rice fields.

The study also showed that water from the man-made ponds contaminated the water in shallow aquifers. The researchers, in a paper published in Nature Geoscience, contend that construction of ponds had influenced the geology, biology and chemistry of the aquifers. For long it was surmised that organic material like plant debris accumulated arsenic which got released when microbes broke it down and that this arsenic contaminated the surface water.

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