June 21, 2010
Up to 77 million Bangladeshis have been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from contaminated drinking water, and even low-level exposure to the poison is not risk-free, The Lancet medical journal reported.
Over the past decade, more than 20 percent of deaths recorded in a study that monitored nearly 12,000 people in the Araihazar district of the capital Dhaka appear to have been caused by arsenic-tainted well water.
By some estimates, between 35 and 77 million people in Bangladesh have been chronically exposed to arsenic-contaminated water as a result of a catastrophically misguided campaign in the 1970s.
Millions of tube wells were drilled in the aim of providing villagers with clean, germ-free water. Many wells were inadvertently dug into shallow layers of soil that were heavily laced with naturally occurring arsenic.