It is what the World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling ‘the largest mass poisoning in history’ and is the subject of an extensive new study published in medical journal the Lancet.

The study looked at 12,000 individuals living in a district of the capital Dhaka over a ten-year period and came to bleak conclusions.

It suggested that chronic arsenic poisoning contributed to more than 20% of the deaths recorded during this period.

Arsenic compounds occur naturally in the aquifer of Bangladesh and almost all (90%) of the population use groundwater as their primary source of drinking water.

The study said there were clear links between the levels of arsenic and mortality rates, concluding that resources and solutions are needed urgently to mitigate the health effects.

Chronic exposure to arsenic and its related compounds lead to damage to the kidneys, heart and brain.

Sam Bond

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