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Much of the shallow groundwater in southeastern and southwestern parts of Bangladesh is naturally contaminated with arsenic exposing more than 40 million people to unsafe levels of arsenic in drinking-water and potentially threatening rice production and food security as well. A study was undertaken to assess the level of arsenic contamination in rice production, determine the level of changes in intake of rice in the arsenic-overwhelmed population and find out the possible effect of arsenic contamination on human health. Sample survey was carried out in three arsenic-prone districts. Analysis revealed that, the yield of modern rice in arsenic-contaminated plots was substantially low compared to that in less-contaminated plots. Most sample households used hand-operated tubewell-water for drinking and daily household purposes. The proportion of arsenic-affected patients was higher in Kachua (14%) than that in Bhanga area. About 37% and 30% of the household heads in Kachua and Bhanga respectively opined that consumption of contaminated rice was another cause of arsenicosis. Women were more exposed to arsenic contamination since the proportions of female patients in all locations were much higher compared to their male counterparts. No children aged below 5 years, were suffering from arsenic problems indicating that arsenicosis is expressed after long-term intake of arsenic through water and food. The findings indicate that the study subjects have inadequate access to arsenic-free water and consequently people had the sufferings. Due to the excessive use of arsenic-contaminated irrigation water and chemical fertilizers, soil health might have been deteriorated substantially. The Government should undertake various action programmes to make people aware of the arsenic problems in Bangladesh.


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