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Clay layers and distant pumping trigger arsenic contamination in Bangladesh groundwater

Well water contaminated by arsenic in Bangladesh is considered one of the most devastating public health crises in the world. Almost a quarter of the country's population, an estimated 39 million people, drink water naturally contaminated by this deadly element, which can silently attack a person's organs over years or decades, leading to cancers, cardiovascular disease, developmental and cognitive problems in children, and death. An estimated 43,000 people die each year from arsenic-related illness in Bangladesh. To avoid arsenic contamination, many Bangladeshi households access water via private wells drilled to 300 feet or less, beneath impermeable clay layers. Such clay layers have been thought to protect groundwater in the underlying aquifers from the downward flow of contaminants. However, a study published in Nature Communications this week suggests that such clay layers do not always protect against arsenic, and could even be a source of contamination in some wells.  Read more....

 

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