High arsenic concentration has been found in groundwater in 18 districts of Bihar, as well as its correlation with incidences of gallbladder cancer at these places, according to a new study, a senior official said.
People in these districts are drinking water with arsenic concentration greater than the World Health Organisation’s permissible limit of 10 microgram per litre, he said.
“The study by experts has found that out of the 38 districts, 18 have high arsenic contamination in groundwater. The worst-affected districts are Buxar, Bhojpur and Bhagalpur. The highest arsenic contamination (1906 ug/L) in groundwater is in Buxar,” Ashok Kumar Ghosh, Chairman of the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB), told PTI.
“Now, arsenic as a possible risk factor for gallbladder cancer has been found in the study. Public health intervention in the form of removing arsenic from drinking water is the need of the hour in the endemic regions of Bihar and Assam. Tackling arsenic pollution may help reduce the burden of several health outcomes,” Ghosh said.
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The experts collected and analysed 46,000 groundwater samples from different areas of the 18 districts before arriving at the conclusion, he said.
“This study investigated exposure to arsenic in drinking water, with gallbladder cancer risk among participants for residency durations of 15-70 years in two arsenic-affected states of India: Bihar and Assam,” Ghosh said.
The research has been published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research on the relationship between arsenic in drinking water and gallbladder cancer.
It was conducted by Indian scientists from different institutions like the Centre for Environmental Health (CEH), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said Ghosh, who was also a member of the team.