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Arsenic problem in ground water and its remediation in Ganga Basin
Mar 13, 2017

In news

Workshop on Arsenic problem in ground water and its remediation in Ganga Basin was recently held. There is an urgent need to start a nationwide movement to make people aware about the arsenic problem. The government has underlined the need to make people aware about the negative impact of Arsenic in Ganga basin area. It has also proposed to prepare an exhaustive work plan to meet the challenges posed by presence of arsenic in ground water on the basis of the outcome of this workshop.

Arsenic problem in India

  • Arsenic in ground water is a geogenic contaminant i.e. caused by natural geologic processes. 
  • Arsenic-containing groundwater in Ganga River basin is hosted by the sediments deposited by the rivers during the late Quaternary or Holocene age (<12 thousand years). 
  • Incidence of high arsenic in groundwater reported from various parts of the country, particularly in the Ganga- plains is a serious threat to the health of human being.Over the last three decades numerous measures have been initiated which includes alternate arrangement for supply of arsenic free water to the affected populace and providing arsenic removal plants.
  • Arsenic occurrences in ground water in these areas is highly sporadic in nature and all the sources in these areas are not necessarily contaminated.

Ganga-Basin

Source:https://userscontent2.emaze.com/images/bda78973-f951-452a-a605-0d218244d216/8b7f731733ed91bdd4c0211025c83ffa.jpeg

What is arsenic?

Arsenic (As) is an odourless and tasteless metalloid widely distributed in the earth’s crust. Elemental arsenic is a member of Group VA of the periodic table, with nitrogen, phosphorus, antimony and bismuth. It has an atomic number of 33 and an atomic mass of 74.91.

What are the forms of arsenic available in nature?

Arsenic and its compounds occur in crystalline, powder,  amorphous or vitreous forms. It usually occurs in trace quantities in all rocks, soil, water and air. It is the 26th abundant element in the earth's crust.

Which form of arsenic is the most toxic?


Arsenite [As (III)] is most toxic form of arsenic and causes acute toxicity. Forms of arsenic such as As (III) and As (V) lead to chronic toxicity. Previously it was thought that methylated forms of arsenic [MMA (V), DMA (V)] were less toxic. However, current studies indicate that these two forms of arsenic are highly toxic.

Danger of Arsenic:

Arsenic-Poisoning

Source:http://sos-arsenic.net/images/as02.jpg

Solution to problem

Technological options to combat arsenic menace, in groundwater, to ensure supply of arsenic free water, in the affected areas can be in-situ remediation of arsenic from aquifer system, ex-situ remediation of arsenic from tapped groundwater by arsenic removal technologies, use of surface water source as an alternative to the contaminated groundwater source, tapping alternate safe aquifers for supply of arsenic free groundwater or combination of above techniques.

Out of the above options, arsenic removal technologies and ex-situ treatment technique are being practiced widely to provide potable water to the people in the arsenic affected areas after treatment of contaminated groundwater. Their large scale use in West Bengal, based on different operating principles, with various degrees of success and failure, has been reported.


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