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Indian J Public Health. 2015 Oct-Dec;59(4):295-8.

Environmental arsenic toxicity in West Bengal, India: A brief policy review.

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Clinical Research Fellow, Health Education and Research Institute, Charleston Area Medical Center, West Virginia, USA.


High-level arsenic contamination of drinking water in West Bengal (WB), India is a grave public health concern, with 26 million people remaining affected. Two decades of research has provided detailed information on multiple aspects of exposure assessment and risk characterization. However, policy paralysis due to lack of finances and lack of any administrative coordination between the Central and State Governments has hampered the implementation of long-term solutions. Household- and community-level arsenic removal units have provided some relief to the suffering population. In view of the increased funding through the 12th Five-Year Plan period, it is the responsibility of the authorities to implement piped water supply schemes with single-point treatment facilities as the permanent solution to this three-decade-long crisis. Incorporating research evidence into policy and focusing on behavior change communication would be crucial to that end.

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