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Article From News From Bangladesh archives

50m people 'vulnerable to arsenic threat' - 02 Jul 02 

At least 50 million (five crore) people in Bangladesh are vulnerable to arsenic infection posing a serious threat to public health.

This was stated Monday at a press conference organised by the General Pharmaceuticals Ltd (GPL) introducing an arsenic detection kit called "Field Test Kit (FTK)" produced by the company. Arsenic, which causes different skin diseases and even cancer, has so far been detected in the tubewells of at least 61 out of the country’s total 64 districts, Managing Director of the GPL Dr Momenul Huq said, quoting the statistics of the Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE).

The quantity of the toxic element in the water of these tubewells of the affected districts exceeded the tolerable limit of 50 particles per billion (ppb), he added. He said in some areas arsenic was found in almost 85 to 95 per cent tube- wells. He also underscored the need for examining tubewells at least once a year to ensure whether it got infected with arsenic or not.

In most cases symptoms of arsenic infections are not visible at the initial stage but, later, it leads to severe deadly diseases like cancer and various skin diseases, he added.

The GPL developed FTK is made using local technology but its quality is of international standard and the price is cheap, officials claimed. The price of per FTK has been fixed at Tk 2,500 by which at least 100 tests can be carried out, they noted.( The Financial Express)

New arsenic kit invented

Using local technology, a private pharmaceuticals company of the country has invented a low cost easy handling field kit to detect arsenic level both in tubewell and ground waters. General Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

(GPL), on completion of a research on over 2500 samples of arsenic contaminated waters for two and a half years, recently invented the kit which will be available in the market within a couple of months.

Giving details of the invention at a press conference held at a city hotel Monday, the managing director of the GPL Momenul Huq said the cost of the kit is much lower than that of those which are being imported by the government and some local NGOs from the USA and Germany.

Huq said if we use the GPL kit only Taka 2500 is needed to conduct arsenic test on 100 samples. But the amount would be as high as Taka 4200 if we use the imported kits including those of Hack and Merch brands to conduct test on the similar number of samples, he said. - BSS

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