Arsenic-affected Habitations Increased
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health
- 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).
- 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
- 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.
- 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.