The world arsenic Catastrophe: Helping the Overwhelmed

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The world arsenic Catastrophe: Helping the Overwhelmed. American Chemical Society Thursday March 30th 2006 Richard Wilson Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics Harvard University - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Transcript of The world arsenic Catastrophe: Helping the Overwhelmed

  • The world arsenic Catastrophe:Helping the Overwhelmed

    American Chemical SocietyThursday March 30th 2006

    Richard WilsonMallinckrodt Research Professor of PhysicsHarvard University


  • 30,000,000 exposed in Bangladesh above US EPA standard

    A catastrophe that makes Chernobyl look small!others in: West BenglalNepalThailandVietnamPakistanHow does the world help Bangladesh?

  • Three vital items

    (1) Make sure measurements of arsenic and coliform bacteria are regular and accurate

    (2) work with local community - they must make decisions and follow up and

    (3) get funds direct to villagers (avoid sticky fingers as much as possible)

  • My recommendation to the Government of Bangladesh

    Find out which (NGO) is doing a competent job(Discuss on web, conferences, WHO etc)Get money direct to them

    Even if not economically the best doing nothing is expensive especially in good will.

  • 1998 (DCH conference)urged immediate action:(1) Measure every wellGreen for OKRed for dont useEncourage well switching(2) Purify Water at House levelwith simple equipment(3) Encourage deep wells (below clay layer)(4) Encourage solutions that lead to the long term

  • Labelling wells was partially successful30% of people switched wells but ~10 million people helped!

    67% switched when a massive education campaign (Columbia-U.Dhaka)

    Some wells badly labeledPerhaps status of wells changed


  • Uncritical use of Arsenic Removal Systems (ARS) May even be counterproductive.

  • AN OLD REMEDYSo Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. And when they came to Marah they could not drink of the waters of Marah for they were bitter. And they murmered against Moses saying What shall we drink? and he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters , the waters were made sweetExodus 15:22-5

  • In West Bengal several hundred have been installed. 80% are not functional. (6th report: Jadavpur University) BUT they seem to work when there is backupSengupta of Bengal CollegeSONO filters near Kushtia DCH tests have not been as good as hoped Also NOT a long term solution

  • Deep wells have worked in Dhaka for a long time!Badly installed wells could bring water down from upper aquifer.

    BUT 98% likely to work at least 20 years Maybe for ever.

  • Long shot:Professor Charles Harvey (MIT) thinksthe problem is pumping water from anoxic region.Possible Solution:Pump concentrated oxidants into the well. Works for a week; tried with massive amounts of oxidants January 2006. We will see.

  • Bangladesh Policy Use surface water when possibleRainwater CollectionImproved (sanitary) DugwellsPond Sand FiltersRiver Sand Filters

    We must avoid bacteriaand know we have avoided bacteria

    Key is measurementMeasurement Cheapest if a large number supplied from one unit

  • January 2000If you ask villagers to put up with your measurements of water (Harvey)and epidemiological studies (Christiani) you have to do something for them

    So we gave DCH a $10,000 check for new water resources(about $60,000 by now)January 2001 we gave them a kit (University of Surrey) for measuring coliform bacteriaThen we got Ashok Khosla (New Delhi) to send his (JAL-TARA) measuring kit which they used.

  • POND SAND FILTERfor several hundred peopleOriginally built in 2001-2 this was high in Coliform. It was rebuilt with more stages and by January 2004 low coliform were measured.

  • Dhaka Community Hospital(experts in community health) has been installing Sanitary surface dugwells where >80% tubewells contaminated WHO standards; Covered; Originally limed, (note that BRAC and Grameen Bank did not follow these standards)now chlorinated (every 3 months)(now) measured regularly

    More recently pumped to tank and pipelineto give running waterVERY POPULARCapital cost $6/person

  • 66 seemed OK in Pabna region.(6 now abandoned)Checked, limed, tested every 3 months for a year. Low arsenic (LOD 3 ppb)0-10 coliform 0 fecal coliformBut questions were asked by Feroze and others2005 tests on 10 wells looked bad. Maybe they ONLY tested just after liming. Now they claim chlorinating every 3 months OK (
  • Jabed Yousuf (DCH) is now in charge of getting measurements and should have been here but DHS did not give him a visa

  • Why the long delay?Importance of discussing with villagersU Dhaka questionnaire shows People willing to pay 20 X as much for piped water as for arsenic free waterEnables larger systems to supply more villagers (maintenance spread over more people)Piped water system leads naturally to central system in the long term

  • I suggest piped water is an imporatant option to suggest to people independent of where the water comes from

  • My recommendation to the Government of Bangladesh

    Find out which (NGO) is doing a competent job(Discuss on web, conferences, WHO etc)Get money direct to them

    Even if not economically the best doing nothing is expensive especially in good will.

  • The whole job can be done for ONLY $300 million!$1 each American

    World Bank provided a $50 million 1% loan that Jim Wolfensohn expected to be spent with 18 monthsand Kuwait Fund can help when asked by governments

  • Meanwhile please support the public foundation of your choiceDugwell Foundation Smith)

    Arsenic Foundation Wilson)