The problem of arsenic contaminated drinking water in Bangladesh became wide spread in the 1970's. This change arose when the primary supply of drinking water was converted from disease ridden surface waters to utilizing groundwater as a supply. The health problems caused by bacteria once present in the surface water supply were lessened, but were replaced with problems stemming from the presence of arsenic and toxic metals. Over the years, an estimated 100,000,000 Bangladeshi people have been exposed to the high levels of arsenic by drinking the contaminated well water. It has been discovered that arsenic, a known carcinogen, and toxic metals are a major cause of numerous health problems. An estimated 57,000,000 Bangladeshis are currently at risk of death from skin cancer caused by drinking arsenic-contaminated water (Better Life Laboratories, Inc., 2002)
Dr. Seth H. Frisbie and Better Life Laboratories, Inc. have been engaged for the past seven years in the issues surrounding arsenic affected waters in Bangladesh. Dr. Frisbie will address the goals, accomplishments, and proposed solutions of this non-profit organization in his talk titled, “Overview of the Nature, Extent, Health Risks, and Treatment of Arsenic-affected Drinking Water in Bangladesh.”
The Better Lab has concentrated on showing the severity of chronic arsenic poisoning, and the relationship between arsenic poisoning and the presence of other metals. With years of extensive research, the first national-scale map of arsenic concentration in well water found throughout Bangladesh was created by the Better Lab group. This indicates that over 50,000,000 people are drinking water with high levels of arsenic and levels of toxic metals such as manganese, lead, nickel and chromium that exceed the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The research group has been dedicated to developing easy to use, inexpensive and reliable methods for testing the water quality of well water in Bangladesh. The improved testing methods and early detection of contaminated waters were determined to significantly decrease the number of Bangladeshi people exposed to the contaminants. Better Life Laboratories has also been successful in investigating bench scale water treatment systems for the contaminated well water, drilling methods to decrease arsenic levels, and is currently developing inexpensive home water treatment options. The organization has also helped the government of Bangladesh obtain World Bank funds amounting to $32.4 million to help solve the water contamination problem. Dr. Frisbie and the Better Life Laboratory group continue to be a leader in the solution to the mass contamination of the water supply in Bangladesh.
For more information regarding the situation in Bangladesh or on Better Life Laboratory Incorporated, please visit the company Website.