Arsenic Contamination in Bangladesh
Arsenic contamination: Arsenic is a chemical compound. Arsenic reacts with other chemical compounds. Arsenic can react and make compounds with Oxygen, Sulfur, Chlorine, Carbon, and Hydrogen. On the other hand, Mercury, Lead, Gold, and iron are also added with arsenic to make the compounds. Arsenic is present everywhere in nature, especially in soil, water, air, seafood, and in many vegetables in different amounts. Arsenic, as a solid, the color is white or light gray and has a bit smell of garlic. But in the dissolved condition arsenic has no color, smell, or taste.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the allowable limit of arsenic in drinking water is 0.01 milligram per liter for Bangladesh the allowable limit for arsenic is 0.05 mg per liter. Every country decides the allowable limits for its people. If arsenic exceeds this allowable limit then it is called arsenic contamination. According to the experts, the main reason for the Arsenic contamination is the excess amount of groundwater withdrawal from the subsurface.
Initially, Arsenic is present in the rocks with other minerals if it comes into contact with the fresh air then it reacts with Oxygen and dissolved into the water. The groundwater table goes down every year by the withdrawal of the excess amount of groundwater from the subsurface. For that reason, the void spaces in the soils are occupied by the air then the Arsenic compounds react with air and Oxygen which is then dissolved into water and causes the groundwater, Arsenic contaminated.
Another hypothesis for Arsenic contamination in Bangladesh is that the industrial effluence has arsenic compounds in a raw form when this element of industrial influence goes into the river it mixes with water and causes groundwater contamination with arsenic.
Being tasteless, colorless, odorless, and un-inflammable, arsenic easily enters our body system through food and water and can cause cancer and life-threatening diseases for human beings. If the air is contaminated with arsenic then arsenic can enter our body system also through the air. Generally, these types of arsenic poisoning occur around industrial areas where the air is polluted with arsenic by the industrial raw materials used.
Through the food chain, naturally, Arsenic can enter our body system with vegetables, water weeds, and seafood. A man can intake arsenic up to 0.025 mg/day to 0.05 mg/day through food or other ways. The good news is that this organic Arsenic is excreted from our body through the urine. As a result, organic Arsenic cannot cause any problems to our health but excess amounts of Arsenic intakes can cause some problems as this arsenic gradually deposits in our body and in the long run can cause severe problems.
Generally, a healthy man gets Arsenic poisonous symptoms in his/her body after taking the arsenic-contaminated water at least eight (8) to twelve (12) years later. If this symptom is caused by the Arsenic, then the duration of Arsenic contamination, drinking of Arsenic contaminated water, the body’s nutritional condition, the body’s immune system, the severity of arsenic contamination of groundwater, and the time of drinking Arsenic contamination water can decide the time of appearing the symptoms of Arsenicosis in our body.
By exceeding that allowable limit of arsenic 0.05 mg per liter, the drinking of arsenic-contaminated water in the long run can cause Arsenicosis disease which is caused by the continuous intake of Arsenic contaminated water.
Three stages of disease symptoms appear in our body.
Melanosis is the first stage of Arsenic contaminated disease. As a symptom, that affected a man or women’s palms usually turn blackish color, then the symptoms spread throughout the body. This change is called diffused melanosis. If there is a spotted black and white scar on the body, this change is called spotted melanosis.
Keratosis is the second phase of the arsenic-contaminated disease. As a symptom, the palms of hands and legs getting harder and harder. The hands and legs plum getting harder and harder is called up diffused keratosis and some patients get a hard spot on the skin called spotted keratosis there might not be a pain but the symptoms show the scar on both palms.
The final stages of Arsenicosis might cause cancer. The symptom is caused by the rot of the skin. As a result arsenic poison affects our whole body The Blood vessels are also affected which causes the scar on the blood vessels and on the skin for this reason the skin gets rotten and scarred severely. Besides that, weakness, appetite, sunburn, hot phobia, long term coughing is also symptoms that appear.
Distribution of arsenic contamination in Bangladesh.
The distribution of arsenic-contaminated tub wells is different from one place to another throughout the country. In some areas, 100% of samples show Arsenic contamination in tub wells, on the other hand, less contaminated tub wells also have been found. The highest number of Arsenic contaminated districts in Bangladesh are;
The lowest Arsenic contamination has been found in the districts of Thakurgaon, Ponchagorh, Nilphamari, Nator, Lalmonirhat, Patuakhali, and Barguna. The southern part of Bangladesh is most affected by Arsenic contamination.
The North-Eastern part is less affected by Arsenic contamination.
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