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PAET, Hannah Lou A.

BS Pharm 4-A

Clinical Toxicology
8:30-9:30 MWF
History of Toxicology

1. Short Narration of the Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh

In 1971, international aid agencies including the United Nations Children's Fund
(UNICEF), the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) began
installing tubewells throughout Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. Millions of tube-wells
were dug in an effort to provide enough water for agricultural purposes and to combat poor
quality surface drinking water that was causing fatal diarrhea. But, at the time, arsenic
contamination of the water supply was not recognized as a problem and the surrounding
area was not tested for arsenic. The problems began appearing in the 1980s and included
arsenicosis, most notably lesions on the hands and feet.By the early 1990s, when it was found
that up to half of 10 million tube wells were contaminated with arsenic, Bangladesh was
confronting a huge problem.More than 30 million people in Bangladesh and more than 6
million people across the border in West Bengal, India were at risk in the area according to
2000 statistics and the lifetime risk of dying by cancer in the area is as high as 13 per 1000
2. Correlate this with Toxicology in the Philippines
Same toxicological event also happened in Boac, Marinduqueon November 29, 2006 --arsenic poisoning in mine waste-contaminated rivers. Signs of arsenic poisoning, were
believed to be caused by a mine waste spill 10 years ago, were starting to manifest in three
farmers who came in close contact with sources of the deadly chemical element.The National
Poison Management and Control Center of the University of the Philippines-Manila
confirmed thethree farmers tested positive for high levels of arsenic.The three farmers were
among the 108 residents from the municipalities of Boac and Mogpog that were screened
and thoroughly tested for skin lesions and neurologic complaints. The farmers complained
of itchiness, numbness, roughening of skin texture, nasal congestion, frequent coughs and
colds, hyper-pigmentation of skin, weakness and headaches.The symptoms appeared after
they were exposed to the mine waste-contaminated rivers of Boac and Mogpog.Arsenic
poisoning of the residents resulted from drinking water with high levels of arsenic over a
long period of time. This might have occurred due to arsenic contamination of ground
water, Marinduque provincial health officer said.
3. Contribution of this capsule in the development of Clinical Toxicology
Arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh paved way in the development of toxicological research
on both Environmental and Clinical Toxicology. It has raised awareness to the public and
health-concerned agencies about the serious and long-term effects of arsenic poisoning and
prompted studies to identify possible ways to prevent toxicity in the population.

PAET, Hannah Lou A.

BS Pharm 4-A

Clinical Toxicology
8:30-9:30 MWF

4. Point out ONE important detail of the history with the supplement of pictures or any
supporting diagrams/documents
One of the worst incidents of arsenic poisoning via well water occurred in Bangladesh,
which the World Health Organization called it "the largest mass poisoning of a population in
history... The scale of the environmental disaster is greater than any seen before; it is beyond
the accidents in Bhopal, India, in 1984, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986".
Arsenic contaminated water is still being consumed, and will continue to be consumed,
by millions of people throughout Bangladesh and West Bengal, India because there has been
no alternate to the wells. According to 2000 statistics, more than 30 million people in
Bangladesh were at risk in the area. According to the data provided by UNICEF in 2008,
there are approximately 8.6 million tube-wells in Bangladesh. Of these, 4.75 million tube
wells (55%) have been tested for arsenic among which 3.3 million (39%) were marked green
indicating that the ground water is safe; while 1.4 million (16%) were marked red indicating
that they are unsafe to use as sources of drinking water due to the high arsenic level, (Fig. 1).
Recent findings show that about 20 million people in Bangladesh are using tube-wells
contaminated with arsenic over the permissible level (>50 ppb).

Figure 1. Safety profiles of the tube-wells supplying

groundwater to the community

Figure 2. Groundwater arsenic contamination in different

districts of Bangladesh based on compilation of field and
laboratory test data