Geospatial Machine Learning Prediction of Arsenic Distribution in the Groundwater of Murshidabad District, West Bengal, India: Analyzing Spatiotemporal Patterns to Understand Human Health Risk

Authors: Nath, B., Das, A., Majumder, S., Roychowdhury, T., Ni-Meister, W. and Rahman, M.M.

Journal: ACS ES and T Water

Volume: 2

Issue: 12

Pages: 2409-2421

eISSN: 2690-0637

DOI: 10.1021/acsestwater.2c00263


Arsenic (As) contamination of groundwater in parts of South and Southeast Asia is a public health disaster. Millions of people living in these regions could be chronically exposed to drinking water with As concentrations above the World Health Organization's provisional guideline of 10 μg/L. Recent field investigations have shown that the distribution of groundwater As in some shallow aquifers in India and Bangladesh is evolving rapidly because of massive irrigation pumping. This study compares a decadeold dataset of As concentration measurements in groundwater with a dataset of recent measurements using geospatial machine learning techniques. We observed that the probability of As concentrations >10 μg/L was much greater in the regions between two major rivers than in the regions close to the Ganges River on the eastern border of the study area, where higher proportions of As concentrations >10 μg/L had been observed prior to 2005. The greater likelihood that toxic concentrations of As are present away from the river channel and is found instead in the interfluvial regions could be attributed to the transport and flushing of aquifer As from intense irrigation pumping. We estimated that about 2.8 million people could be chronically exposed to As concentrations >10 μg/L. This high population-level exposure to elevated As concentrations could be reduced through targeted well-testing campaigns, promoting well-switching, provisions for safe water access, and developing plans for raising public awareness. Policymakers could use the ternary hazard map presented here to target high-risk localities for priority implementation of piped water supply strategies to help reduce human suffering.

Source: Scopus