In Bangladesh more than sixty million people are at risk of arsenic poisoning from drinking water, the most basic need for a human being to survive. They are in serious threat of arsenicosis. Arsenicosis is a chronic disease with a significant latency period for non-cancer and cancer effects.The strongest epidemiological evidence on skin cancer effects comes from studies of arsenic contamination of drinking water.High levels of arsenic in drinking water are also associated with a number of internal cancers. Drinking water containing high concentration of arsenic also is responsible for lung and bladder cancer.The most widely noted non-cancer effects of chronic arsenic consumption are skin lesions. The first symptoms appear after initial exposure are hyper pigmentation (dark spots on the skin) and hypo pigmentation (white spots on the skin).Over time arsenic exposure is associated with keratosis on the hands and feet. Keratosis is a condition where the skin hardens and develops into raised wart-like nodules. Arsenic poisoning is also associated with peripheral vascular disease. This condition results in gangrene in the extremities and usually occurs in conjunction with skin lesions. Among cardiovascular problems hypertension and ischemic heart disease have been found to be associated with arsenic. Research into organ damage has concentrated mainly on the liver. The liver methylates inorganic arsenic that is consumed in drinking water. The resulting arsenic metabolites are excreted in the urine. Differences in methylating efficiency may be the reason for variations in arsenic retained in the body, and thus susceptibility to arsenic poisoning. The role of nutrition is an important factor in determining methylation efficiency and toxicity to arsenic retained in the body
Arsenicosis has a strong social dimension, affecting issues such as relationships within the family, and the mental health of the sick. Many arsenicosis sufferers have been ostracized at either the household or village level. There are so many cases where the patient suffering from skin lesions caused by arsenic poisoning in water whose children are unwilling to eat the food prepared by their own mother, and there are so many divorces because of the other partner is affected with seriuos arsenic poisoning. Social and gender relations thus pose additional threats to security and well being. It is essential to pay attention to these factors in assessing the effects of arsenicosis. The real impact on family and gender relations, and on livelihoods, of the stigma attached to arsenicosis sufferers.At present more than sixty million of Bangladeshis face a nightmare of painful death by drinking water, contaminated with very high level of arsenic.
Touching Souls International provides an ongoing Arsenic Awareness Program going to different districts of Bangladesh and educating the local people by giving lectures, leaflets and CD’s in schools, colleges, market places and in social gatherings on the following:
* Not to drink water from the hand pumps which are marked red (contaminated with arsenic).
* Boiling the arsenic contaminated water does not lower the concentration of arsenic in it.
People should use alternative source of arsenic free water, surface water, like pond, river, well and rain water boiled for forty-five minutes and utilze the bucket treatment to get rid of arsenic.
* Saving social stigma, arsenic poisoning is not contagious.
* Persons who are poisoned seriously with arsenic, need to take rest, drink arsenic free water, eat healthy food rich in protein with lots of vegetables, specially from cabbage family.
The goal of Touching Souls International’s Arsenic Awareness program is to educate the disadvantaged people of Bangladesh who are in a great risk of drinking water contaminated with high level of arsenic before any permanent solution can be given for them.
Refference: WHO > Programmes and projects > Water Sanitation and Health (WSH)