Posted by: Tony Carson | 1 September, 2007

World facing ‘arsenic timebomb’

The problem is in the solution.

Rather than drinking surface water which can be rife with pollution, people in the developing world have been encouraged to dig wells. Makes sense. Except that in many places, an estimated 70 countries affecting 140 million people, arsenic, a metal natural to soils, is waiting to leech into the otherwise potable water.

The BBC reports in World facing ‘arsenic timebomb’:

Arsenic consumption leads to higher rates of some cancers, including tumours of the lung, bladder and skin, and other lung conditions. Some of these effects show up decades after the first exposure.

“In the long term, one in every 10 people with high concentrations of arsenic in their water will die from it,” observed Allan Smith from the University of California at Berkeley.

“This is the highest known increase in mortality from any environmental exposure.”

In fact, not a lot is known about this problem, but it does have relatively simple solution, once detected: dig deeper wells, purify the water or find water that won’t be contaminated by arsenic lying naturally in the soil.

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