High levels of arsenic (over 50 ppb) has been detected in 29% of the deep tube-wells tested in 271 upazilas of the country, LGRD and Cooperative Minister told the parliament yesterday.
The figure means close to one third of the deep tube-wells tested across the country produce water that is not safe for drinking.
Replying to a starred question from ruling party lawmaker Habibur Rahman, Syed Ashraful Islam said: “Water from 50 lakh deep tube-wells in 271 Upazilas was tested. Excessive arsenic contamination (over 50 ppb) was found in 29% or 14.5 lakh deep tube-wells.”
Responding to another question from Shawkat Chowdhury, the LGRD Minister said the government is carrying out tests in the country’s 32 arsenic-prone areas, which will be completed by 2016.
Arsenic contamination is frequent in the southern areas of the country. Arsenic compound are naturally available in nature, once the water level drops to a certain level, it is diluted in ground water and causes long term poisoning.
LGRD minister also informed that if the government finds arsenic in any tube-well, they immediately paint it red colour, and ask people not to drink water from there.
Arsenic contaminated water is safe for any other use except drinking and cooking.
The minister said, observation teams, through the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), have been sent to the country’s 32 arsenic-prone regions to test arsenic contamination under the Bangladesh Rural Water Supply and Sanitation project.
Earlier, tests to detect arsenic in all upazilas of the country were completed by 2003, the minister mentioned.
In a recent study jointly conducted by the Department of Geology, Dhaka University, and Columbia University, USA, found about 43,000 to 56,000 people die annually in Bangladesh from diseases caused by arsenic pollution.
According to the study, some 0.5% of the GDP is lost due to this.