A new study published in the journal Environmental International provides a detailed picture to date of the high mortality rates associated with arsenic exposure, which began with the widespread installation of tube wells throughout the Bangladesh 30-40 years ago.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC and icddr,b, led by Dr Mahfuzar Rahman. The study draws its results from a prospective and longitudinal study involving 58,406 individuals who were tracked for over a decade (since 2003) in Matlab, Chandpur district of Bangladesh. The study reported that boys had a higher risk of death compared to girls who were exposed to arsenic contamination; however, it did not clarify why boys are more affected than that of girls.
While the tubewells reduced exposure to the microbes causing diseases, they yielded water contaminated with arsenic, which occurs naturally in the region. “The need for a global response is apparent because the situation goes far beyond Bangladesh and South Asia", says Dr Mahfuzar Rahman, Head of Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC.