Dr. Yan Zheng of City University of New York Queens College and Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will present, "Challenges and Opportunities to Mitigate Arsenic Risks in Health, Water Supply and Agricultural Sector".
From 3pm to 4pm, Dr. Yan Zheng gave a presentation on "Challenges and Opportunities to Mitigate Arsenic Risks in Health, Water Supply and Agricultural Sector".
Occurrence of groundwater with elevated concentrations of arsenic is well recognized in several countries in South Asia, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. It has been estimated that about 50 million people are exposed to arsenic at concentration greater than 0.05 mg/L, the drinking water standard for most of these countries. In Bangladesh, 1 in 14 adult deaths is attributable to chronic exposure to arsenic at current exposure level, resulting in significant economic loss. Lowering exposure from drinking water is the most effective intervention strategy whereby coordinated efforts by the water supply and the health sectors can improve targeting the worst affected population.
When arsenic-laden groundwater is pumped for irrigation, arsenic accumulates in soil, and in turn, rice grains. This has been shown to reduce rice yield. Hence, it is only a matter of time that arsenic will have a significant impact on food security and food safety.
A key challenge in developing of a coordinated approach to support multi-sectorial implementation plans for arsenic mitigation is that it needs to be initiated by the highest level of the government. A regional dialogue among policy and decision makers and technical experts offers an opportunity towards re-defining the arsenic issue as being a multi-sectorial one, and to call on the highest level of political support from the government to address it with adequate financing. Such dialogue can also be used to articulate solutions drawn from experiences from countries in this region to be implemented in the near future.