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Arsenic in tubewell water of Bangladesh and approaches for sustainable mitigation
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Land and Water Resources Engineering.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

There is an urgent need for Bangladesh to identify the arsenic (As) contaminated tubewells (TWs) in order to assess the health risks and initiate appropriate mitigation measures. This involves testing water in millions of TWs and raising community awareness about the health problems related to chronic As exposure from drinking water, and providing alternative safe water option for the exposed population of the country. The use of spatial maps in a participatory context emerged as an important tool for an effective and rational distribution of alternative safe water options for the exposed population of the country. Field test kit offers the only practical tool available to screen all the TW water considering the time frame and financial resources of the country.

A comparison of the field test kit results and laboratory measurements by atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) as “gold standard” for As in water of 12,532 TWs in Matlab upazila (sub-district) in Bangladesh, indicates that the field test kit correctly determined the status of 87% of the As levels compared to the Bangladesh Drinking Water Standard (BDWS) of 50 μg/L, and 91% of the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guideline value of 10 μg/L.

In order to identify the sustainable alternative safe water options, different type of safe water options were distributed in Sonargaon and Jhikargachha upazilas (sub-district) in 2001 and later revisited the options in 2004 to identify the sustainable ones. It was observed that community acceptability of the distributed options was not encouraging; less than 2% of the provided options were found to be in use. However, two new approaches emerged from people’s initiatives, which were making rapid and positive contributions to safe water coverage: switching to the existing As-safe TWs and reinstalling TWs at 50-100 m depths by looking at particular type of sediment colours.

A study was conducted in Matlab upazila to validate the concept of installation/reinstallation of TWs at certain depths, a new concept promoted by local drillers (masons). The study revealed that locally a thick layer of black to grey sediments overlies an oxidized unit of yellowish-grey to reddish-brown sediments. The correlation between the colour of both units and the groundwater redox conditions was investigated to provide an easy tool for targeting low-arsenic groundwater. The water abstracted from black sediments contained high amount of As concentration but the concentration decreased towards the yeallowish to red sediments. Three boreholes verified the driller's perception of the subsurface lithologic conditions. Discrepancies between the driller's and the research team description of the sediment colours were insignificant. This study shows that sediment colour is a reliable indicator of high and low As-concentrations in TW water and can be used by local drillers to install TW.

Lack of financial resources and identification of an appropriate distribution tools are some of the major obstacles to provide sustainable solution to the exposed population of the country. Spatial mapping exercise along with community participation can help maximize the safe water coverage of different alternative safe water options by reducing financial involvement. Combining people’s voice with that of spatial information gave better results and the method is already been proved useful in targeting non-served areas. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods along with geographical information system (GIS) used in the study to obtain relevant information. Participants from different focus groups were asked to determine their ‘own priorities’ for spatial planning of alternative arsenic-safe water options. The study discusses community perspectives on demand-based safe water options and reveals the suitability of using participatory geographic information system (PGIS) technique to target non-served areas for rational distribution of safe water options.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2007. , xvi, 28 p.
Series
Trita-LWR. PHD, ISSN 1650-8602 ; 2007:1033
Keyword [en]
Tubewell; Arsenic; field test kit; groundwater; sediment colour; local drillers; safe aquifer; people’s initiatives; Participatory GIS (PGIS)
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4372ISBN: 978-91-7178-668-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4372DiVA: diva2:11999
Public defence
2007-05-24, Sal V1, KTH, Teknikringen 76, Stockholm, 10:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100716Available from: 2007-05-14 Created: 2007-05-14 Last updated: 2010-07-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Screening of arsenic in tubewell water with field test kits: Evaluation of the method from public health perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Screening of arsenic in tubewell water with field test kits: Evaluation of the method from public health perspective
Show others...
2007 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 379, no 2-3, 167-175 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is an urgent need for Bangladesh to identify the arsenic (As) contaminated tubewells (TWs) in order to assess the health risks and initiate appropriate mitigation measures. This will involve testing water in millions of TWs and raising community awareness about the health problems related to chronic As exposure from drinking water. Field test kits offer the only practical tool within the time frame and financial resources available for screening and assessment of the As contaminated TWs as well as their monitoring than that of the laboratory measurement. A comparison of field test kit and laboratory measurements by AAS as "gold standard" for As in water of 12,532 TWs in Matlab Upazila in Bangladesh, indicates that the field kit correctly determined the status of 91% of the As levels compared to the Bangladesh Drinking Water Standard (BDWS) of 50 mu g/L, and 87% of the WHO guideline value of 10 mu g/L. Nevertheless, due to analytical and human errors during the deten-nination of As by the field test kits, some misclassification of wells is inevitable. Cross-checking of the field test kit results, both by Field Supervisor and by the laboratory analyses reveal considerable discrepancies in the correct screening mainly at As concentration ranges of 10-24.9 mu g/L and 50-99.9 mu g/L, critical from a public health point of view. The uncertainties of misclassification of these two groups of TWs have severe public health implications due to As exposure from drinking water sources. This can be reduced through proper training of the field personnel, cross verification of the field test kit results with laboratory analyses and further development of the field test kits to determine As at low concentrations.

Keyword
Analysis; Assessment; Bangladesh; Drinking water; Exposure; Field test kit; Predictive values; Public health; Sensitivity; Specificity; Tubewell
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-7087 (URN)10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.11.053 (DOI)000247354700005 ()17258792 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-34249064884 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100716. Uppdaterad från In press till Published 20100716.Available from: 2007-05-14 Created: 2007-05-14 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Searching for sustainable arsenic mitigation strategy in Bangladesh: experience from two upazilas
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Searching for sustainable arsenic mitigation strategy in Bangladesh: experience from two upazilas
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2007 (English)In: International Journal of Environment and Pollution, ISSN 0957-4352, E-ISSN 1741-5101, Vol. 31, no 3-4, 415-430 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Arsenic concentrations of tubewell water that exceed the Bangladesh Drinking Water Standard pose a serious health problem for millions of people in Bangladesh. Groundwater is the source of drinking water for 98% of the population. The main object of the study was to review the status of the provided options, which were distributed during 1999-2001 in two upazilas. It was observed that acceptability of the distributed options was not encouraging; less than 2% of the provided options were found to be in operation. However, two new approaches emerged from people's initiatives, which are making rapid and positive contributions to safe water coverage.

Keyword
Alternative safe water option; Bangladesh; Groundwater; People's initiatives; Reinstallation of tubewell; Sustainable arsenic mitigation
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-7088 (URN)10.1504/IJEP.2007.016506 (DOI)000253558800014 ()2-s2.0-36549081499 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100716. Uppdaterad från In press till Published 20100716. Available from: 2007-05-14 Created: 2007-05-14 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. Targeting low-arsenic aquifers in Matlab Upazila, Southeastern Bangladesh
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Targeting low-arsenic aquifers in Matlab Upazila, Southeastern Bangladesh
Show others...
2007 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 375, no 2-3, 121-132 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Groundwater with high concentration of geogenic arsenic (As) occurs extensively in the Holocene alluvial aquifers of Bangladesh. Local drillers in Matlab Upazilla are constructing deeper tubewells than in the recent past, primarily because of low concentrations of dissolved Fe and As. Locally a thick layer of black to grey sediments overlies an oxidised unit of yellowish-grey to reddish-brown sediments. The correlation between the colour of both units and the groundwater redox conditions was investigated to provide an easy tool for targeting low-arsenic groundwater. Based on the sediment colour at the screen depths described by local drillers, 40 domestic shallow tubewells were selected for water sampling. Four colours were used to describe the sediments: black, white, off-white (buff) and red. Generally, the groundwater was anoxic and the As concentrations ranged from less than 5.2 to 355 mu g/L. Water derived from the black sediment is characterized by relatively higher concentrations of dissolved NH4+, DOC, Fe, P, As and by low Mn and SO42- concentrations. The off-white and red sediments had high concentration of Mn and low NH4+, DOC, Fe, P and As concentrations. The water abstracted from the black sediments indicated the most reducing environment, followed by white, off-white and red respectively. Three boreholes verified the driller's perception of the subsurface lithologic conditions. Discrepancies between the driller's and the research team description of the sediment colours were insignificant. This study shows that sediment colour is a reliable indicator of high and low-As concentrations and can be used by local drillers to target low-arsenic groundwater.

Keyword
Bangladesh; Geogenic arsenic; Groundwater; Local drillers; Sediment colour; Targeting safe aquifers
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-7089 (URN)10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.06.028 (DOI)000247354700002 ()17113133 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-34249057119 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100716. Uppdaterad från In press till Published 20100716. Tidigare titel: "Targeting low-arsenic aquifers in Matlab upazila, Southeastern Bangladesh: Science of the Total Environment"Available from: 2007-05-14 Created: 2007-05-14 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
4. Use of GIS in local level participatory planning for arsenic mitigation: a case study from Matlab Upazila, Bangladesh
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Use of GIS in local level participatory planning for arsenic mitigation: a case study from Matlab Upazila, Bangladesh
2007 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A: Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering, ISSN 1093-4529, E-ISSN 1532-4117, Vol. 42, no 12, 1933-1944 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A Participatory Geographical Information System (PGIS) has been developed recently to design and adapt Geographic Information System (GIS) that draws on the diversity of experiences associated with "participatory development" and involves communities in the production of GIS data and spatial decision-making tools. Participatory approach in the development of GIS helps to develop local knowledge processes. This knowledge process creates a channel of coordination between local people and the experts. The paper deals with the possibility of using spatial maps in consultation with local communities to develop an effective and sustainable distribution planning to maximize as well as ensure safe water coverage for the arsenic (As) exposed population in Mattab Upazila in southeastern Bangladesh. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods along with GIS were used to obtain relevant information from the field. Participants from different focus-groups were asked to determine their "own priorities" for spatial planning of alternative As-safe drinking water options. The study reveals that about 70% of the alternative safe water options were distributed after consultation with people. These distributed options were found to be superimposed within the existing safe water buffer zones which otherwise could have been avoided and thus increased the safe water coverage if the spatial maps were also consulted before selection of final installation sites. The study based on the community perspectives on demand-based safe water options thus reveals the suitability of using PGIS techniques for rational distribution of safe water options. The process of participatory mapping within focus-groups further makes a platform to enhance information about community needs of suitable safe water options in the study area.

Keyword
Arsenic; Bangladesh; Mitigation; Participatory GIS; Spatial planning
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-7090 (URN)10.1080/10934520701567221 (DOI)000250556000025 ()2-s2.0-35449001650 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100716. Uppdaterad från Accepted till Published 20100716.Available from: 2007-05-14 Created: 2007-05-14 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved

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