Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bad Water in Bangladesh... [Original Post Date 9/06/07]

is the subject of this Moonbattery post, which references this UNESCO report, and this American Thinker article. It is about naturally-occurring arsenic contamination of shallow groundwater in Bangladesh. [At least seven years ago, Dr. Seth Rose, Georgia State University Geology Dept (and a damned nice guy) gave a talk before the Atlanta Geological Society about this very subject.]

For a variety of reasons, Bangladesh is desperately poor. From the memory of Dr. Rose's talk, though the UN "takes it on the chin" in the Moonbattery post, he suggested that the British Geologic Survey may have had some culpability in telling the Bangladesh government that "it was OK" for people to install the bamboo "tubewells", which are physically pushed into the shallow ground, to reach the ground water. Below a clay layer, there is a deeper aquifer, with cleaner water, but it is too deep for the bamboo tubewells. Because of the widespread poverty, it is difficult to access drill rigs to drill the deeper wells.

It is my understanding that arsenic is relatively easy to test for and according one of the articles, it is not that hard to remove. But for some reason, the UN has sat on this information for some 30 years, while the "little brown people" of Bangladesh were progressively poisoned. If you are not familiar with the basics of arsenic toxicity, it is possible to build up a tolerance for arsenic, but in large enough amounts, the results include chronic illnesses and perhaps some forms of cancer. This could be a reason for Bangladesh's inability to rise above its improverished conditions (because most of its people are sick, most of the time.)

Can you imagine the world reaction if Union Carbide (or Exxon/Mobil) had been responsible? The presence of arsenic is not due to industrial pollution, but to the natural conditions of weathering of arsenic-rich rocks and erosion and deposition.

So what is it? Just "governmental" dithering by the UN or is it a form of population control?

[Update: The UNESCO article is quite informative and it explains the geological reasons for the arsenic in the water. As for who can help Bangladesh, as Bangladesh is mostly Muslim, have any of their brethren nations offered help in drilling new water wells? I guess we could ask Senator Patty Murry - "Now that Osama bin Ladin is no longer building roads and schools in Afghanistan, is he going to help Bangladesh?".]

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