NEW YORK, June 26 (UPI) — One in five deaths in Bangladesh stems from arsenic in drinking water, which the World Health Organization describes as the largest mass poisoning in history.
The study, published in the journal The Lancet, found between 33 million and 77 million people in Bangladesh have been exposed to arsenic through drinking water linked to the widespread installation of tube wells 30 years ago to control waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Although the wells reduced exposure to the microbes causing such diseases, the water was contaminated with arsenic, which occurs naturally in the area.
Dr. Joseph Graziano, the study leader, and colleagues at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of Chicago said the arsenic-related deaths were due to heart disease and other chronic diseases in addition to the more common arsenic exposure — skin lesions, and cancers of the skin, bladder and lung.
The study tracked lifestyle and health data for 12,000 people in Bangladesh over a 10-year period via interviews and urine samples every two years. In addition, nearly 6,000 wells were tested to establish the arsenic concentration of the water source for each participant.
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