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Arsenic contamination

 

Source: TH

 

Context: A recent peer-reviewed study suggests that even low levels of arsenic consumption, commonly found in contaminated groundwater in India, can impact cognitive function in children, adolescents, and young adults.

 

What does the study say:

  • Arsenic exposure leads to reduced grey matter in the brain, affecting concentration, information storage, and switching between tasks.
  • At the population level, contamination leads to increased school failures, diminished economic productivity, and a higher risk of criminal and antisocial behaviour.
  • The major factor for contamination: Arsenic intake from food, primarily through rice consumption; using contaminated groundwater.

 

Remedy: Modifying food preparation techniques, such as cooking rice in a specific way, can significantly reduce arsenic levels; promoting piped water access and installing arsenic removal plants; encourage extraction from aquifers (water channels below the ground) that are deeper than 100 m.

 

About Arsenic:

Arsenic is an odourless and tasteless metalloid found naturally in the earth’s crust and groundwater. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form and can cause arsenic poisoning. Arsenicosis, the accumulation of high levels of arsenic in the body, leads to adverse health effects and can result in multi-system organ failure and death. Efforts have been made under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to provide safely managed drinking water free of arsenic contamination. The Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide safe drinking water to all households in rural and urban India by 2024.