Researchers have underscored the need for policy interventions at the highest level to urgently address the serious threat posed by arsenic contamination of groundwater in the country.
According to a paper published in Geoscience Frontiers, 20 States and four Union territories are affected by this problem now.
The paper ‘Arsenic contamination of groundwater: A global synopsis with focus on the Indian Peninsula’ is authored by E. Shaji, Associate Professor, Department of Geology, University of Kerala; M. Santosh, Foreign Expert at the China University of Geosciences, Beijing; and K.V. Sarath, Pranav Prakash, V. Deepchand and B. V. Divya of the Department of Geology, University of Kerala.
Arsenic contamination in groundwater was first reported from Chandigarh, and a second case was reported in the lower Gangetic plain of West Bengal.
20 States hit
“’But now we find that 20 States are affected,” Dr. Shaji said.
The list mentions south Indian States Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Investigations in Kerala are in progress, he said. Drinking arsenic contaminated groundwater can lead to serious health issues including cancers, coronary heart disease, liver damage, arsenicosis and hyperkeratosis. according to the authors.
“’Thirty-three Asian countries are significantly affected by groundwater arsenic contamination. The most affected countries are China, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. In India, it is reported that a population over 50 million is currently at risk from arsenic contamination,”’ it noted.
Groundwater can get contaminated by both natural processes and anthropogenic causes like mining.