‘Toxic levels of arsenic’: Over half of S. Asia groundwater unusable for 750mn people, study says

toxic-waterSixty percent of groundwater in the Indus and Ganges river basin – essential for the lives of over 750 million people in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh – is too contaminated to drink or use for irrigation, a new study says.

The groundwater of the vast Indo-Gangetic basin, named after the Indus and Ganges rivers, is contaminated and inappropriate for use, a team of scientists wrote in Nature Geoscience.

“Within 60 percent of the aquifer [permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater], access to potable groundwater is restricted by excessive salinity or arsenic,” says the study, which is entitled ‘Groundwater quality and depletion in the Indo-Gangetic Basin mapped from in situ observations’.

Some 23 percent of the groundwater stored in the basin contains too much salt at a depth of up to 200 meters (650ft), while about 37 percent of it “is affected by arsenic at toxic concentrations,” the scientists explained. read more