What would be your reaction if you found out that the water you are drinking contained poison that could kill you?

There is no doubt that water is an essential element of life, the presence of which is a guarantee of prosperity and survival of life. An adult male body needs 3 liters of water daily to function properly and efficiently. However, if a person drinks this amount of toxic water daily, it can have fatal effects. The poison we are talking about here is arsenic. World Health Organization (WHO) findings show that arsenic is present in groundwater around the world. Arsenic is an element that is extremely dangerous in its inorganic form and is one of the WHO 10 chemicals for public health concern. Although arsenic is not a poison in low concentrations, high doses make it poisonous. According to Paracelsus, "it is the dose (concentration) that makes poison a poison." The WHO states that the amount of arsenic in drinking water has exceeded the permissible limit of 10 micro g / L, which makes the water toxic to drink. According to the World Health Organization, 140 million people worldwide drink arsenic-contaminated water.

Arsenic poisoning is a major problem for Pakistan this decade. Various reports have also showed the presence of arsenic in Pakistan's water bodies. In Pakistan, the presence of arsenic in the Indus River has been reported and an estimated 60 million people drink contaminated water containing 50 mg per liter of arsenic, five times the World Health Organization guidelines. Arsenic is naturally present in water, soil, rocks, sediments and air. However, arsenic enters the water through industrial effluents that discharges into aquatic bodies which is a common practice in Pakistan. In industries, arsenic is used as an allowing agent and in glass processing, paper, ammunition. Mining is another source of arsenic contamination.

A major human exposure to arsenic is to eat food and crops that are irrigated with contaminated water. As, arsenic is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, so you will never find out if you are exposed to arsenic poisoning. Arsenic is a toxic heavy metal that has a detrimental effect on human health. Its inorganic form is carcinogenic and is mostly present in water compared to its organic form, which is less harmful to humans. Severe exposure to arsenic can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Prolonged use of arsenic can cause arsenicosis and heart disease. Arsenic can also cause skin problems and cancer. The biggest problem with arsenic contamination is that you can't remove arsenic by boiling or heating water, and even chlorine disinfection can't remove it. Therefore, the government needs to treat water using reverse osmosis, ion exchange or ultra filtration methods, which is not possible for people.

About the Author: Muhammad Arslan Aslam is doing his masters in "Climate Change and Sustainable Development" from Asian Institute Of Technology Thailand.