Naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater contaminates the
tube wells in Bangladesh. It is seriously affecting the health of
more than 60 million people, as it ultimately leads to a slow and
painful death for many. Furthermore, this problem can also affect
the water supplies in a number of other countries, such as Argentina,
Chile, France, India, and the United States. The problem was described
in some detail in the Chemical
and Engineering News
issue of October 21, 2002.
The IUPAC CHEMRAWN Committee is planning a conference entitled
CHEMRAWN XV: Chemistry for
Water to be held in June 2004 in Paris. To delineate the current
situation regarding water quality in Bangladesh, we propose to hold
a workshop-planning meeting on Solving the Problem of Arsenic Contamination
in Water in Bangladesh as a pre-CHEMRAWN XV event. The results of
that first meeting will be reported upon at CHEMRAWN XV and will
also form the basis of a plan for a larger, Regional Workshop that
will be organized in Bangladesh late in 2004 or early in 2005.
Dr. Sut Ahuja made a worldwide appeal in a letter
to the editor of C&EN of June 9, 2003, wherein chemists
and chemical engineers were asked to offer their suggestions to
rectify this problem. Numerous responses and suggestions were received
from various parts of the world. A request was then made to American
Chemical Society to support this project through their Office of
International Activities. At the September 6, 2003, meeting in New
York, IAC unanimously approved this project, which will enable chemists
and chemical engineers worldwide to play a significant role, in
that they can help purify water that has been contaminated by nature.
The solutions of the problem range from chemical reaction to various
separation techniques that entail adsorption, ion exchange, or membrane
filtration. It is believed the optimum solution will help millions
of people throughout the world and reinforce the idea that chemists
help resolve pollution problems for betterment of the world.
To address the objectives stated above, we propose to hold the
workshop-planning meeting in Bangladesh in January 2004, where discussions
will be held with the Head of the Chemistry Department of Dhaka
University; with Dr. Mosihuzzamann, Chair of Bangladesh Chemical
Society; and with representatives of government agencies. At that
time we will be able to meet also with Dr. Abul Hussam who will
be visiting his homeland. Prof. Hussam, of George Mason University
in Fairfax, VA., is very knowledgeable in the area of water quality.
He is originally from Bangladesh, and his help will be of great
value in the organization of the planning meeting and the Regional
Workshop. In the course of these planning sessions, we will (1)
determine which notable international scientists should be brought
to the Regional Workshop to meet with local scientists who are actively
addressing the problem, and (2) evaluate how we can involve local
government agencies to assist in implementation of the solutions
proposed. To this end, contacts have been made with most of the
individuals listed above.
Plans for a workshop to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 11-13
December 2005 are being finalized:
out for new dates!!)
contact: Dr. Satinder Ahuja
Senior Research Fellow, Novartis Corporation (retired)
1061 Rutledge Court
Calabash, NC 28467 United States
Tel.: +1 910 287-2765
The workshop will address the following
1. By what mechanism(s) does arsenic (As) enter the groundwater
in Bangladesh and elsewhere?
2. What low-cost methods are available to determine As concentrations
in groundwater? What new methods need to be developed?
3. What procedures exist or can be devised to remove As economically?
4. What is an economically practical action plan for implementing
appropriate remediation technologies?
Workshop on Origins
and Remediation of Groundwater Contamination by Arsenic
11-13 December 2005
A report of the workshop is published in Chem.
May-June 2006, p. 14-17
Last update: 25 May 2006
Remarks: another IUPAC project,
complementary to this one, is coordinated within the Chemistry and
the Environment Division > see
<announcement published in Chem.