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Article From News From Bangladesh archives



Ever since we came to know about the arsenic in the groundwater, and that it is poisoning the people, researchers have left no stone unturned in their search for solutions. Although remedies there are in plenty, the problem is so very complex that when solving one aspect, two more problems pop up in its place. As no one wants to solve a problem by creating new ones this often acts as a setback to solving this problem.

Now when we hear there has been a breakthrough in the removal of arsenic from the human body, we can only feel elated as, if true, it will certainly bring hope to the millions of sufferers of Bangladesh. As the researchers say, it could herald "the beginning of the single largest rescue effort in the history of man as we gear up to make this product available to those who have been poisoned with arsenic drawn up through tube wells in Bangladesh and other areas of South Asia."

The Medical Researchers located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida the City of Clearwater in the United States say this breakthrough opens the door to the immediate safe removal of arsenic and other heavy metals from the human body.

See The news article NFB June 11, 2002 ( breakthrough in Florida ) :


The discovery utilizes the colon as the primary pathway for arsenic removal, thus preserving the kidneys, which are usually destroyed by other methods. "The product we have developed is even safe for use on infants," said David A. Minkoff, M.D., a pediatrician and the groups primary researcher.

"We have used the product on numerous children and adults in our practice and lab tests are showing massive discharges of arsenic and other heavy metals such as mercury, lead, antimony, beryllium, copper, nickel and uranium," he said. "Recoveries of body functions are significant ranging from the recovery of apparently autistic children to shifts of personality for the better and the restoration of proper immune system function," Dr. Minkoff said. Considering the high levels of lead found in children living in Dhaka, this could also be a breakthrough for them too.

Lisa Nickel, a Licensed Nurse Practitioner who works with Dr. Minkoff stated, "We are seeing major health improvement in these patients including significant improvement in personality and mental acuity. These improvements are occurring in both children and adults" she said. This too is important for us because we know that young children and developing fetuses are known to absorb lead more readily than adults. Once in the body, lead is distributed to the blood, soft tissue, and bone. Lead exposure can lead to damage to the brain and central nervous system, slow growth, hyperactivity and learning problems. Adults exposed to lead can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nervous disorders, and memory and concentration problems.

According to Mr. Clarke, who has worked in the field of human rights for over thirty-five years, "From here on out into the future, the problems of rescue are and will remain simply those of logistics. We now know how to save the lives of those who have been poisoned but the question remains whether the will is strong enough to overcome the opposition to such a rescue." He could not be more right for we too have no illusions that all will go smoothly only if the government makes this a top priority and if the medical communities involved in the effort are sincere.

The determining factor is and must be, the true intent of all those involved including the government, UNICEF and NGOs as, if they are found lacking, this treatment will never reach the millions of sufferers in the region who so desperately need this product.

Over a year back I suggested in an article that, as patients with arsenic poisoning were, according to doctors, not receiving the care and attention they deserve, we should look at other options. When we know the human body excretes arsenic at a certain maximum rate that depends on the individual and that if arsenic is ingested at a greater rate that can be excreted by the kidneys, it will build up in the liver, spleen and blood, new options (will) suggest themselves as if one can exclude arsenic from the diet, all of the build-up will be excreted within days or weeks with the exception of that portion sequestered in the nails and hair. This means that, even if the product is as good as claimed, we shall still need to provide the people with arsenic-free water.

Experts in the line suggested that by introducing zeolite into the diet we could potentially accelerate the excretion of arsenic by creating another excretion mechanism in addition to the kidneys. As the blood supply to the small intestine is extremely ramified, and blood is exposed to the fluid inside the intestine, the zeolite would be able to "withdraw" the arsenic from the blood and bind it and it would then be excreted with the faeces, while the kidneys keep excreting arsenic.

Arsenic is not sequestered in the bones like lead and some other heavy metals, so it should be more susceptible to leaching. If an effective therapy could be developed, some of the applications could be: 1. Purging of the arsenic body burden from patients that manifest visible symptoms; 2. Purging of patients suspected to have elevated arsenic in the body. It would seem to us that this team of researchers had the same idea and we hope their product will be put to good use in Bangladesh.

As far back as 1998 a Ph.D. dissertation at the University of South Florida reported on research that identified a natural zeolite, chabazite, that adsorbed both arsenite and arsenate when modified by attaching iron (Fe ++)) to the crystalline matrix. As zeolites have been used to leach certain heavy metals from humans, for example, cesium was leached from children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster by using clinoptilolite, a common natural zeolite, it could be worth a try. However as leaching of arsenic could be accompanied by leaching or blocking the absorption by the body of other minerals that are nutritionally beneficial, we must emphasise that a proper trial must be undertaken by a competent body before widespread distribution.

However we must be mindful of the fact that however successful zeolite therapy or any similar therapy may be, including this new product, it will not "solve" the arsenic problem in Bangladesh. The most that could be expected from it is it would be an inexpensive way to accelerate the excretion of arsenic from a patientís body.

If an effective, safe zeolite therapy could be developed, the benefit could be to relieve morbidity for those patients who do not have access to arsenic free drinking water or safe surface water and who are unlikely to get relief any other way. This would be far from being a perfect outcome, but it might be at least provide an affordable intervention that would relieve the worst effects of chronic arsenicosis while alternatives to the current drinking water supplies are under development.

Copyright © 1998 Global Amitech


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