Murshidabad—The Arsenic Affected District
Ankush Pal, Deboshree Konar Chowdhury, Shilpa Ahmed
Arsenic in biologic samples; Arsenical skin lesions; Cancer and gangrene in affected villages; Arsenic-affected children; Arsenical neuropathy.
To understand the severity of related health effects of chronic arsenic exposure in West Bengal, a detailed 3-year study was carried out in Murshidabad, one of the nine arsenic-affected districts in West Bengal. Methods. We screened 25,274 people from 139 arsenic-affected villages in Murshidabad to identify patients suffering from chronic arsenic toxicity for evidence of multisystemic features and collected biological samples such as head hair, nail, and spot urine from the patients along with the tubewell water they were consuming. Results. Out of 25,274 people screened, 4813 (19%) were registered with arsenical skin lesions. A case series involving arsenical skin lesions resulting in cancer and gangrene were noted during this study. Representative histopathological pictures of skin biopsy of different types of lesions were also presented. Out of 2595 children we examined for arsenical skin lesions, 122 (4%) were registered with arsenical skin lesions, melanosis with or without keratosis. Different clinical and electrophysiological neurological features were noticed among the arsenic-affected villagers. Both the arsenic content in the drinking water and duration of exposure may be responsible in increasing the susceptibility of pregnant women to spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, preterm births, low birth weights, and neonatal deaths. Some additional multisystemic features such as weakness and lethargy, chronic respiratory problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, and anaemia were also recorded in the affected population. Discussion. The findings from this survey on different health effects of arsenic exposure were compared to those from previous studies carried out on arsenic-affected populations in India and Bangladesh as well as other affected countries. Conclusion. Multi systemic disorders, including dermal effects, neurological complications, and adverse obstetric outcomes, were observed to be associated with chronic arsenic exposure in the study population in Murshidabad, West Bengal. The magnitude of severity was related to the concentration of arsenic in water as well as duration of the exposure.
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Unique Paper ID: 163100

Publication Volume & Issue: Volume 10, Issue 11

Page(s): 680 - 688
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