Sunday, January 16, 2011

Research Proposal on Arsenic

Research Proposal on Arsenic

Arsenic (As) is a chemical element occurring naturally in rocks and soils (4). It is introduced into the environment through dissolution from minerals and ore bodies, through erosion of local rocks close to groundwater extraction points, and through the combustion of fossil fuels (1).

Mining can intensify As levels in groundwater due to oven roasting of As-bearing ores (e.g. arsenopyrite – FeAsS) (3). As can also be introduced into the environment through industrial effluent and atmospheric deposition (2). Organic arsenic is nowhere near as toxic as inorganic As is to humans and As cannot be seen, tasted or smelled when it is dissolved in water (1,4).

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines for drinking water quality, 0.01mg/L is the provisional guideline value of As in drinking water (1). In Bangladesh and other parts of Asia this guideline is raised to 0.05mg/L due to the severe lack of drinking water with As levels near 0.01mg/L (4).


Arsenic contamination is a problem because traditionally it was not tested for when drinking water evaluations were carried out and is difficult to detect without expensive specialised equipment. Groundwater is particularly susceptible to As contamination due to natural geochemical forces (3). Contamination is naturally and anthropogenically created with countries such as Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Mexico, Peru, Thailand and U.S.A. reporting contamination (1). Large portions of southern and eastern Bangladesh have As contaminated drinking water, with only seven out of ten wells tested as being safe for human consumption (3,4). The shallow aquifer, which has been extensively exploited, is the source cause for contamination in this region (3).

Contamination of arsenic is related to geological bodies. In Bangladesh and India, As-rich rocks eroded from the Himalayas and were deposited as sediments in West Bengal. These sediments became part of the aquifer system. The release of As into local groundwater through oxyhydroxyl reduction raises the As content in water to levels too high for human consumption according to WHO guidelines (4).

Arsenic is highly toxic and carcinogenic (3) and arsenic poisoning occurs after exposure to contaminated groundwater. Symptoms can take 5-10 years to appear and poisoning affects individuals in different ways, families that have been contaminated report whilst some members become very sick others are not affected. As accumulated in the body but can be excreted however if accumulation occurs faster than excretement, As collects in hair and nails (4).

Symptoms of poisoning are varied including skin discolouration, lesions, vomiting, diarrhoea, oesophageal and abdominal pain, hyperkeratosis, gangrene, and skin, lung, urinary and kidney cancers. No universal definition for diseases caused by arsenic yet exists (1,2,4). As poisoning extends to social and economic hardship, especially for the poor due to cost of healthcare, inability of affected people to work and can lead to social exclusion of affected individuals (1).

Stopping ingestion of As contaminated water may alleviate existing symptoms and lower long-term risk of disease. Vitamin supplements and enriched diets can help manage infections.

UNICEF have developed a mitigation program for Bangladesh, where safe drinking water supplies have been identified, healthcare and management of As-related diseases are addressed and education of the local community is conducted. There are now simple field kits that are able to identify As-rich waters quickly (4). Arsenic cannot be removed from groundwater so surface runoff and rainwater collections are alternative sources of drinking water (1).

Warning!!! All free online research paper proposals, research paper samples and example research papers on Arsenic topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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