“Arsenic in Groundwater: A World Problem”

On the first of April 2008, the Netherlands national Committee of the Dutch Chapter of IAH presented their Publication No.5 "Arsenic in Groundwater: A World Problem".

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During the past two decennia it has become apparent that arsenic poisoning (As) via groundwater has become a worldwide problem. Some of the best-documented and most severe cases of arsenic contaminated groundwater have been found in aquifers in Asia (e.g. parts of Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal) and South America (e.g. Argentina, Mexico). High levels of arsenic in groundwater not only cause significant problems in the provision of safe drinking water, but lately have also raised concern regarding food safety: in the case of long-term use of groundwater for irrigation purposes - whereby crops become contaminated due to the accumulation of arsenic. Long-term exposure to arsenic has been associated with cancer of the skin, lungs, urinary tract, kidneys and liver, and can also produce various other non-cancerous effects. Recent studies also indicate the adverse effects of arsenic exposure on reproduction and child development.


Arsenic can be produced and mobilised naturally in water and soils via the weathering processes and microbial activity. Contamination can also be caused by anthropogenic activities such as metal mining and groundwater abstraction, and in some cases through the use of arsenic-based pesticides in agriculture and forest preservation. In most cases, however, it is the natural biogeochemical processes that play a dominant role in the mobilisation of arsenic in water.


Internationally recognised institutes and universities, among others, the British Geological Survey (BGS), the Karolinska Institute and the Amsterdam Vrije Universiteit, various UN organisations, namely the WHO, WMO, FAO and UNESCO, have also been involved in this research and knowledge dissemination.


The various contributions dealing with, among others, occurrence and causes of arsenic contamination and its effects on health and food production, give a clear and broad insight into the state-of-the-art knowledge of all aspects of arsenic in groundwater. The publication No.5 Arsenic in Groundwater - a World Problem presents the arsenic problem in such way that it becomes accessible to a broad and involved public that normally might not have easy access to scientific literature; giving this publication a rather unique status among the extensive list of existing literature on this subject.


    NNC-IAH Publication No. 5 Arsenic in Groundwater - a World Problem can be downloaded as pdf file from this website; it can also be ordered as a ‘hard copy" from the Secretariat Netherlands National Committee of the Dutch Chapter of IAH, attention Sophie Vermooten, c/o Deltares Subsurface and Groundwater Systems, P.O. Box 85467, 3508 AL Utrecht, The Netherlands or preferably by sending an e-mail to sophie.vermooten@deltares.nl.

    The price of the publication -including postage- is; for the Netherlands € 15.-; within Europe € 20.-; outside Europe € 35.-, payable to our bank account at ABN-AMRO bank at Utrecht, The Netherlands; BIC code ABN ANL 2A and (IBAN) account number NL57ABNA0442961480, in the name of Secretaris Nationaal Commite I.A.H., under indication of "Order As Publication".


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