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Arsenic contamination

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation and water pollution.

 

Arsenic contamination

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Arsenic contamination- state- wise level of contamination.

For Mains: Concerns associated and government efforts to prevent water pollution.

 

Why in News? Arsenic is toxic to almost all life forms, but now researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that some microbes in the Pacific Ocean not only tolerate the stuff, but actively breathe it. The discovery has implications for how life may adapt to a changing climate, as well as where we might find it on other planets.

 

Relevant topic:

Arsenic in groundwater:

Arsenic in ground water is a geogenic contaminant i.e. caused by natural geologic processes.

Concerns: Incidence of high arsenic in groundwater reported from various parts of the country, particularly in the Ganga- plains is a serious threat to the health of human being.

Arsenic occurrences in ground water in these areas is highly sporadic in nature and all the sources in these areas are not necessarily contaminated.

 

Key facts:

  • Arsenic is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of a number of countries.
  • Arsenic is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
  • Contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions. It has also been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In utero and early childhood exposure has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults.

 

Measures:

Technological options to combat arsenic menace, in groundwater, to ensure supply of arsenic free water, in the affected areas can be in-situ remediation of arsenic from aquifer system, ex-situ remediation of arsenic from tapped groundwater by arsenic removal technologies, use of surface water source as an alternative to the contaminated groundwater source, tapping alternate safe aquifers for supply of arsenic free groundwater or combination of above techniques.

 

What’s the difference between organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic?

Atoms of arsenic bond with other elements to form molecules — if carbon is one of these elements, then the arsenic compound is an organic compound. If there is no carbon present, then the arsenic compound is in an inorganic compound.

Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen — it is this form of arsenic that is linked with increased risks of cancer and other health effects.

 

Sources: the hindu.