Arsenic contamination in Bangladesh groundwater: a major environmental and social disaster

Int J Environ Health Res. 2002 Sep;12(3):235-53. doi: 10.1080/0960312021000000998.


In attempting to eliminate disease caused by drinking polluted surface water, millions of shallow surface wells were drilled into the Ganges delta alluvium in Bangladesh. The latest statistics indicate that 80% of Bangladesh and an estimated 40 million people are at risk of arsenic poisoning-related diseases because the ground water in these wells is contaminated with arsenic. The clinical manifestations of arsenic poisoning are myriad, and the correct diagnosis depends largely on awareness of the problem. Patients with melanosis, leuco-melanosis, keratosis, hyperkeratosis, dorsum, non-petting edema, gangrene and skin cancer have been identified. The present article reviews the current arsenic contamination of ground water, hydrological systems, groundwater potential and utilization and environmental pollution in Bangladesh. This paper concludes by clarifying the main actions required to ensure the sustainable development of water resources in Bangladesh.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / adverse effects*
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Arsenic Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Arsenic Poisoning / etiology
  • Bangladesh
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Social Conditions
  • Water Pollution / prevention & control
  • Water Purification
  • Water Supply / standards*


  • Arsenic