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Article From News From Bangladesh archives


Speakers warn against arsenic in food chain - 6 Feb 2003

Widespread use of groundwater for irrigation suggests that ingestion of crops so produced could be a major source of arsenic poisoning. Besides, "phyto-toxicity" due to increased arsenic in soil/water and its long-term impact on agricultural yield is an area of concern, said speakers at a seminar in the city. And naturally occurring arsenic and arsenic-rich wastes, generated from a wide range of arsenic removal systems, also pose a threat "In the absence of any clear guideline for safe disposal, such wastes are often disposed in a very unsafe way", they added.

The seminar on the" Fate of Arsenic in the Environment," jointly organised by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), International Training Netwrok (ITN), Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme and the United Nations University (UNU), was held at the BUET Council Bhaban. Experts from India, Japan, Britain, Pakistan and Bangladesh participated at the seminar.

The discussion session was divided into two parts. In the first session, experts presented technical papers on the fate of arsenic extracted with groundwater, influence of upstream sediment on arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh, the cancer risk of drinking arsenic -contaminated water and a pilot study in Sonargaon.

M Ashraf Ali presented the paper on the 'fate of arsenic extracted with groundwater.' He said although considerable work had been done on arsenic removal from contaminated groundwater and alternate water supply options, the presence of arsenic in irrigation water did not receive due attention. And the dependency on groundwater for public water supply and irrigation results in a huge quantity of arsenic being cycled through the environment each year with major implications on public health and the environment, Ashraf Ali concluded.

In the second session, experts presented papers on arsenic in plant-soil environment in Bangladesh, extent and severity of arsenic contamination in soils of Bangladesh, a study of arsenic contaminated irrigation water and its carried-over effect on vegetables, accumulation of arsenic in rice plants from arsenic contaminated irrigation water and its effect on nutrient contents, arsenic contamination of soil and water and related bio-hazards in Bangladesh and the fate of arsenic in wastes generated from arsenic removal units. BUET Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Alee Murtuza attended the discussion as the chief guest, while Dr. Zafar Adeel addressed the seminar as the representative of UNU. Prof. M Abdur Rauf, head of the department of civil engineering, BUET, chaired the seminar and Prof. Dr. M Feroze Ahmed delivered the introductory speech. (The Daily Star)



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