Volume 1, 2018

Arsenic Toxicity in Soil-Plant-Human Continuum and Remedial Options

Saroj Kumar Sanyal
Formerly at Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Mohanpur, Nadia, West Bengal & Adjunct Professor, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi & Bihar Agricultural University, Sabour, Bihar

Published 2023-09-04


  • Arsenic Keywords contamination; food-chain; health hazards; remedial measures.

How to Cite

Kumar Sanyal, S. (2023). Arsenic Toxicity in Soil-Plant-Human Continuum and Remedial Options. DIALOGUE: Science, Scientists and Society, 1, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.29195/DSSS.01.01.0006


Even though the widespread arsenic (As) contamination of groundwater in West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh has remained mostly confined to the Bengal delta basin, bound by the rivers Bhagirathi and Padma, the spread (detection) of such groundwater arsenic contamination has been reported from several states of India, as well as certain other parts of the Indian subcontinent. The safe limit for arsenic in drinking water has been prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be 10 μg As. L-1 and yet, arsenic contamination in the groundwater to the tune of 50 to 3700 μg As. L-1 has been reported from the states of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Tripura and Nagaland. The source of such arsenic contamination in groundwater is believed to be of geogenic origin. The primary attention so far has been directed towards solving the problem of contaminated groundwater-based drinking water, notwithstanding the fact that the groundwater in the affected belt is extensively used in the agricultural sector rather than for drinking purpose. The number and extent of well-planned systematic studies conducted so far to examine the influence of arsenic in groundwater, used as irrigation source, on soil-plant-human continuum are only limited. Indeed, much more research work remains to be done in this field, not only in the Bengal delta basin but also, and especially in the other parts of the affected belt mentioned above. This issue assumes particular significance in view of the fact that what remains essentially a of contamination, as in the case of drinking water, becomes a of contamination of uncertain extent and spread, when arsenic finds its way into the human-food-web through the use of such contaminated groundwater for agricultural irrigation, coupled with the possibility of up in the food-chain. The present article has made an attempt to take stock of this issue of considerable and long-standing environmental impact, as well as the appropriate mitigation options, involving people’s participation. The need for appropriate policy interventions has also been highlighted.


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