Natural arsenic in coastal groundwaters in the bengal delta region in West Bengal, India
Authors: Bhattacharya, P., Jacks, G., Nath, B., Chatterjee, D., Biswas, A., Halder, D., Majumder, S., Bhowmick, S. and Ramanathan, A.L.
Bengal Delta region is currently confronted with largest groundwater arsenic calamity in history of human kind (BGS-DPHE, 2001; Mukherjee and Bhattacharya, 2001; Bhattacharya et al., 2002a; McArthur et al., 2001; Smedley and Kinniburgh, 2002; Mukherjee et al., 2006; Nath et al., 2005, 2007, 2008). Concentrations of arsenic in drinking water wells in the region often exceed the WHO drinking water guideline value (10 μg L-1) and the national safe limit of both India and Bangladesh for arsenic in drinking water (Smedley and Kinniburgh, 2002; RGNDWM, 2002; CGWB, 1999; Bhattacharya et al., 2002a). About one third (35 million) population inhabiting in this region (West Bengal and Bangladesh), currently at risk of long-term arsenic exposure (Bhattacharya et al., 2001; RGNDWM, 2002; Chakraborti et al., 2004; Kapaj et al., 2006), are being diagnosed with a wide spectrum of adverse health impacts including skin disorders such as hyper/hypo-pigmentation, keratosis and melanosis and are also in hot-spot areas of BDP which is reflected in a rise in the number of cancer cases (Guha Mazumdar et al., 1988). The distribution pattern of arsenic occurrence in BDP is patchy and there are numerous hotspots of arsenic contamination in the semi-confined shallow Holocene aquifer (Bhattacharya et al., 1997; Smedley and Kinniburgh, 2002). The scale of the problem is serious both in terms of hotspots and geographic area coverage (173 × 10 3 km2, eastern part of Hoogly-Bhagirathi/Western part of Ganga-Padma-lower Meghna flood plains). © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.