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Groundwater arsenic contamination throughout China.

Science (New York, N.Y.)



World Health Organization, Arsenic, toxicity, analysis, Water Pollutants, Chemical, Models, Statistical, Humans, Hazardous Substances, Guidelines as Topic, standards, chemistry, Groundwater, Global Health, Environmental Monitoring, Drinking Water, Drinking, epidemiology, Arsenic Poisoning

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Arsenic-contaminated groundwater used for drinking in China is a health threat that was first recognized in the 1960s. However, because of the sheer size of the country, millions of groundwater wells remain to be tested in order to determine the magnitude of the problem. We developed a statistical risk model that classifies safe and unsafe areas with respect to geogenic arsenic contamination in China, using the threshold of 10 micrograms per liter, the World Health Organization guideline and current Chinese standard for drinking water. We estimate that 19.6 million people are at risk of being affected by the consumption of arsenic-contaminated groundwater. Although the results must be confirmed with additional field measurements, our risk model identifies numerous arsenic-affected areas and highlights the potential magnitude of this health threat in China.

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