About this Research Topic
Arsenic is found as a drinking water contaminant, in many regions all around the world, and is a major environmental challenge in both developing as well as industrialized countries. However, addressing the problem requires different approaches which take into account, the differential economic and social conditions in both country groups. It has been estimated that 200 million people worldwide are at risk from drinking water containing high concentrations of As, a number which is expected to further increase due to the recent lowering of the limits of arsenic concentration in drinking water to 10 μg/L, which has already been adopted by many countries, and some authorities are even considering decreasing this value further.
Arsenic in groundwater has been identified as a major cause of death and ill health is many countries, most notably in Bangaldesh, where several tens of thousands of premature deaths per annum are attributable to exposure to such groundwaters through drinking, cooking and – indirectly – through irrigation of rice and other crops. There is increasing evidence that citizens within the European Union are also at risk, albeit typically at lower levels than in Bangladesh. Whilst water supplied by large, mostly public, utilities within the European Union is mostly of a high quality, private water supplies represent a significant source of arsenic exposure for some EU citizens. Exposure through rice has also become of concern, for example as highlighted recently by the European Food Standards Authority.
This research topic will cover the distribution and occurrence, pathways of exposure, health risks, mitigation and management of arsenic in the environment in the European Union, as well as from a global perspective. Occurrence in both groundwaters and soils will be documented, together with concentrations in food and beverages, in particular rice and baby-rice products. Exposure routes and biomarkers that may be used as proxies for exposure will be outlined. Various models for estimating health risk and in particular their variation between different sub-groups will be rendered. Management of these risks through regulation and effective treatment to provide safe drinking water and safe food to communities is essential and will be outlined.
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