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Tags Current Affairs

Arsenic and Iron in water

Date: 04 December 2019 Tags: Reports & Indices


About 3.22 per cent of rural habitations across all states and UTs, accounting for 3.73 per cent of the population, were consuming drinking water with quality issues, according to data tabled by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.



Groundwater contamination occurs when man-made products such as gasoline, oil, road salts and chemicals get into the groundwater and cause it to become unsafe and unfit for human use. Materials from the land's surface can move through the soil and end up in the groundwater.



  • Iron is the most common contaminant of drinking water, with over 18,000 rural habitations affected, followed by salinity that affects roughly 13,000 rural habitations, arsenic , fluoride and heavy metal.

  • Rajasthan has the highest number of rural habitations affected by contamination overall. Most of these are affected by salinity in drinking water.

  • In terms of arsenic and iron pollution, West Bengal and Assam are the worst affected. There are about 30,000-odd rural habitations where drinking water is affected by either of these contaminants.

  • West Bengal has the highest number of rural habitations affected by arsenic contamination, followed by Assam, Bihar, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

  • Assam has the highest number of rural habitations affected by iron contamination. It is followed by West Bengal, Tripura, Bihar and Odisha.

  • States and UTs that are not affected by any of these contaminants include Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu.

Arsenic contamination

  • Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a form of groundwater pollution which is often due to naturally occurring high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels of groundwater.

Health Issues

  • Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions called Black Foot disease.

  • It has also been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In utero and early childhood exposure has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults.

Methods to treat arsenic contamination

  • Substitute high-arsenic sources, such as groundwater, with low-arsenic, microbiologically safe sources such as rain water and treated surface water.

  • Discriminate between high-arsenic and low-arsenic sources. This can be an effective and low-cost means to rapidly reduce exposure to arsenic when accompanied by effective education.

  • Install arsenic removal systems – either centralized or domestic – and ensure the appropriate disposal of the removed arsenic.

  •  Technologies for arsenic removal include oxidation, coagulation-precipitation, absorption, ion exchange, and membrane techniques.

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