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International Recovery Platform

RGS papaer 2, Arsenic contaminated aquifers, a study of the Ganga levee zones in Bihar, India

This study covered a 10 km. belt along the Ganga river in the four districts of Bhojpur, Patna, Vaishali and Bhagalpur. The purpose of this research was to obtain the distribution and quantum of human population at risk of arsenic poisoning and population composition characteristics of the arsenic-affected belt. The methodology adopted was based upon self-generated and confirmed primary data on abnormally high arsenic concentration in ground water ranging from above 10 ppb. to 1861 ppb. Percentage of hand pumps testing with more than 10 ppb. arsenic content were calculated. This data was compared with the Census 2001 data to obtain estimates of affected population, while Topographical and Administrative Block Maps of all four districts were referred to for studying the spatial pattern of this population. The result showed that approximately 1,537,426 persons [about 47% of the population] residing in the study belt are at risk. In Bhagalpur study belt, the vulnerability extends to more than 75% of the population. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning are widespread, especially among child population. Appropriate mitigation strategies are yet to be undertaken in this study area.

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