Title : Evaluation of arsenic mitigation in four countries of the Greater Mekong Region. United Nations Children’s Fund.

Authors : Jakariya, M. & Deeble, S.

Abstract : Access to safe drinking water is essential to health, a basic human right and a component of effective policy for health protection. Chronic arsenic poisoning results from drinking water with high levels of arsenic over a long period of time. The health effects are dependent on the susceptibility, dose and period of exposure. Today, tens of millions of people, mainly in developing countries, are affected by levels of arsenic in drinking water that exceeds the World Health Organization?s (WHO) drinking water guideline value of 10 parts per billion (ppb). Proper identification of the arsenic contaminated tubewells is therefore needed to assess the health risks and initiate appropriate mitigation measures. Arsenic mitigation involves testing tubewell water for arsenic, raising community awareness about the health problems related to chronic arsenic exposure from drinking water, and finally, providing alternative safe water options for the exposed population. High levels of arsenic in tubewell water were discovered relatively recently in the Greater Mekong region when compared to China and the Bengal Delta Plain. Installation of tubewells in the four studied Mekong countries commenced in the late 1990s, which may be one of the contributing factors why the arsenic exposure in these countries was found to be comparatively less. Furthermore, people in these regions traditionally collect rainwater for drinking during the rainy season. This drinking water habits assist in diluting the arsenic concentration in the human body, as a result, these people are less susceptible to arsenic poisoning.

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