Women more exposed to arsenic contaminated water

Women more exposed to arsenic contaminated water

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Women are more exposed to drinking arsenic contaminated water than men, according to a recent study. It says that household head’s occupation as agriculture and other occupations including household activities and unemployed student are significantly associated with drinking arsenic contaminated water. Nepal C Dey and Sifat E Rabbi of Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, jointly conducted the follow-up study on ‘Arsenic Test and Exposure to Drinking Arsenic Contaminated Tubewell Water’. Three consecutive surveys were conducted in 11 arsenic-prone upazilas from the first phase of BRAC WASH I programme, with data collected from 6,600 households — 600 from each of the 11 upazilas. The study shows that with the increase of education level, the tendency of drinking arsenic contaminated water has decreased. The people having access to media like television and radio showed significantly lower odds ratio for drinking arsenic contaminated water than those who have no access to media. The household heads aged 30-45 years are comparatively less exposed to arsenic contaminated drinking water because of their awareness. This study evaluated the changes in the status of arsenic test and exposure to drinking arsenic contaminated tubewell water in BRAC Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme (WASH I) intervention during 2006-2011. Analysis revealed that proportion of red marked tubewells decreased from baseline to end-line of the programme whereas the proportion of green marked tubewells increased in end-line among all economic groups. The proportion of unmarked tubewells significantly decreased from baseline to end-line. The study recommended strengthening information and communication to encourage people in testing and marking tubewells. High concentration of arsenic in drinking water has been documented as a major public health concern in some parts of the world affecting 100 million people. The catastrophic affect of arsenic toxicity, sourced by arsenic contaminated water, has already been experienced in many countries, particularly in Bangladesh where 62 out of 64 districts are contaminated by arsenic. Among the Asian countries, Bangladesh is the most arsenic-affected where 20 million people are at risk of drinking arsenic contaminated water above the guideline of 50μg/l, which is five times higher than the WHO estimation. A study conducted by Unicef in 2009 found that 12.6 percent of the household’s drinking water in Bangladesh did not meet the government standard for drinking water quality. It was identified that poor are more exposed to arsenic contaminated water, and unmarked tubewell is one of the main reasons of exposure to drinking arsenic contaminated water. – UNB

 

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