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Arsenic-affected Habitations Increased

  • IASbaba
  • October 3, 2020
  • 0
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Arsenic-affected Habitations Increased

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • According to data shared in the Parliament, the number of arsenic-affected habitations in India has increased by 145% in the last five years (2015-20).

Key takeaways

  • India had 1,800 arsenic-affected habitations in 2015. 
  • This increased to 4,421 habitations as of September 2020.
  • Most of the arsenic-affected habitations lie in the Ganga and Brahmaputra alluvial plains – Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh (UP).
  • Assam had the highest share of such habitations (1,853), followed by West Bengal (1,383).
  • However, the number of fluoride affected habitations has significantly come down.

Important value additions

Arsenic Poisoning

  • It is naturally present at high levels in the earth’s crust and groundwater in a number of countries. 
  • It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
  • Contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause cancer, skin disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • In early childhood exposure, it may cause reduced cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults.
  • According to the WHO’s guidelines for drinking water quality (2011), the permissible limit of Arsenic in groundwater is 0.01 mg per litre.

Fluoride Toxicity

  • Excessive fluoride intake usually occurs through the consumption of groundwater naturally rich in fluoride, particularly in warm climates.
  • Such exposure may lead to dental fluorosis (tooth decay) or crippling skeletal fluorosis.

Do you know?

  • A new Sub-programme under National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) – National Water Quality Sub-Mission (NWQSM) was started by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2017 to address the urgent need for providing clean drinking water in about 28,000 Arsenic & Fluoride affected habitations.

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