Extent of arsenic contamination and its impact on the food chain and human health in the Eastern Ganges Basin: a review
This IWMI review documents impacts of arsenic contamination on the food chain and human health in Eastern Ganges basin and calls for urgent new research and long-term monitoring of data to understand and tackle arsenic contamination in the region.
Arsenic (As) is one of the hazardous elements found in the environment, and its exposure causes serious health issues such as cancer in the skin, lungs, bladder, liver, and the kidneys; and cardiovascular, neurological, hematological, renal, and respiratory problems. Arsenic contamination of groundwater is reported worldwide and, in the Eastern Gangetic Basin (EGB), in particular. Recent studies show that food crops are also a major route for As exposure, because of the usage of As-contaminated groundwater for irrigation. The EGB is home for 358.97 million people, where, 80% live in rural areas depending on agriculture for their livelihoods. Groundwater is a major source of water for drinking, domestic and agriculture purposes. However, in some parts of this region, the quality of groundwater is questionable due to arsenic contamination. Intention of this paper is to create an overall assessment of As pollution in the EGB based on existing literature. The main objective of this study is to demark the extent of the As-contaminated area in the EGB, and to document the As impacts on the food chain and human health. This study will help for better planning and management of groundwater in the study region.