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Coping with the environmental catastrophe in Bangladesh and possible assistance from Harvard University

Richard Wilson

Department of Physics, Harvard University, USA

We have identified three approaches that must be started simultaneously to cope with the problem. First and foremost pure water must be made available to the people of Bangladesh.

Secondly, all data on the catastrophe must be recorded and shared with other coping with the problem and throughout the world to ensure a rapid solution and prevent a repetition of the catastrophe.

Thirdly, epidemiological studies must be undertaken to ensure that we understand exactly what the problem of arsenic poisoning is.

Even the first item has two aspects -- short term remediation and long term water management.

So far we (Richard Wilson and Tania Hakim) have begun to address the second by means of a web site (http://phys4.harvard.edu/~wilson/arsenic.html). We ask any and all to look at it and to tell us what we should add, particularly any data that are available and any useful links to other sites.

We (Ford and Yu) have plans together with MIT scientists (Harvey and Hemond) to try to understand the geochemistry of the problem to help in the long-term solution.

We are associated with Dr Nicholaidis of the University of Connecticut who has one of several suggested re mediation methods.

Finally we have plans to work on an epidemiological study using biomarkers. (Christiani)

We hope in all of this to help to improve the scientific and technical infrastructure for coping with these problems indigenously in Bangladesh.


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