Arsenic-Contaminated Drinking Water and the Associated Health Effects in the Shahpur Block of Bihar: A Case Study From Five Villages

  • Barun Kumar Thakur
  • Vijaya Gupta
Part of the Advances in Water Security book series (AWS)


The current paper estimates the arsenic-contaminated drinking water and its associated effects on human health. The result is based on a primary survey of 173 households from five arsenic contaminated villages from Shahpur block in the Bhojpur district from Bihar state, India. A field test kit was used to test the concentration levels of arsenic in households’ drinking water. The results of the water tests revealed that more than 60% of the drinking water has excess arsenic concentration levels (more than 0.01 mg/L of WHO standards). The incidence rate due to arsenicosis (arsenic poisoning) was more among females than males. From the survey, it was also found that skin-lesions and other health issues due to arsenic induced-problems were more acute among children and women compared to men. More than half of the respondents (51%) did not hear about arsenic poisoning, and around 13.29% of the surveyed respondents know the serious health issues due to arsenic-contaminated drinking water.


Arsenic Bihar Drinking water Health Skin lesions 



This paper is a part of Fellow (Ph.D.) programme carried under National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai and financed by MHRD, Government of India. Authors are thankful to all the villagers who helped during the field survey.


  1. Abhinav S, Navin S, Verma SK, Kumar R, Ali M, Kumar A, Ghosh AK (2016) Groundwater and blood samples assessment for arsenic toxicity in rural population of Darbhanga district of Bihar, India. In: Bhattacharya P, Marie V, Jerker J, Jurate K, Ahmad A, Sparrenbom C, Jacks G, Donselaar ME, Bundschuh J, Naidu R (eds) Arsenic research and global sustainability – proceedings of the 6th international congress on arsenic in the environment. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, London, pp 419–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmad J, Bishwanath G, Smita M (2005) Value of arsenic-free drinking water to rural households in Bangladesh. J Environ Manag 74:173–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahmed S, Sengupta MK, Mukherjee SC, Pati S, Mukherjee A, Rahman MM, Hossain MA, Das B, Nayak B, Pal A, Zafar A, Kabir S, Banu SA, Morshed S, Islam T, Rahman MM, Quamruzzaman Q, Chakraborti D (2006) An eight-year study report on arsenic contamination in groundwater and health effects in Eruani village, Bangladesh and an approach for its mitigation. J Health Popul Nutr 24(2):129–141Google Scholar
  4. Ahsan H, Yu C, Faruque P, Lydia Z, Maria A, Iftikhar H, Hassina M, Diane L, Zhongqi C, Vesna S, Alexander VG, Geoffrey RH, Joseph HG (2006) Arsenic exposure from drinking water and risk of premalignant skin lesions in Bangladesh: baseline results from the health effects of arsenic longitudinal study. Am J Epidemiol 163(12):1138–1148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Amanambu A, Egbinola C (2015) Geogenic contamination of groundwater in shallow aquifers in Ibadan, South-west Nigeria. Manag Environ Qual 26(3):327–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Argos M, Tara K, Brandon LP, Yu C, Faruque P, Tariqul I, Alauddin A, Rabiul H, Khaled H, Golam S, Diane L, Vesna S, Paul JR, Habibul A (2011) A prospective study of arsenic exposure from drinking water and incidence of skin lesions in Bangladesh. Am J Epidemiol 174(2):185–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bates MN, Omar AR, Mary LB, Claudia H, Lee EM, David K, Craig S, Allan HS (2004) Case-control study of bladder cancer and exposure to arsenic in Argentina. Am J Epidemiol 159(4):381–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhatia S, Sheshan K, Prasad E, Kumar V (2016) Mitigating arsenic health impacts through Community Arsenic Mitigation Project (CAMP). In: Bhattacharya P, Marie V, Jerker J, Jurate K, Ahmad A, Sparrenbom C, Jacks G, Donselaar ME, Bundschuh J, Naidu R (eds) Arsenic research and global sustainability – proceedings of the 6th international congress on arsenic in the environment. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, London, pp 618–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bhattacharya S, Gupta K, Debnath S, Ghosh UC, Chattopadhyay D, Mukhopadhyay A (2012) Arsenic bioaccumulation in rice and edible plants and subsequent transmission through food chain in Bengal basin: a review of the perspectives for environmental health. Toxicol Environ Chem 94(3):429–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bose N, Chaudhary S, Ghosh AK (2016) Geogenic arsenic contamination in the groundwater of Bhagalpur district in Bihar, India: a challenge for sustainable development. In: Bhattacharya P, Marie V, Jerker J, Jurate K, Ahmad A, Sparrenbom C, Jacks G, Donselaar ME, Bundschuh J, Naidu R (eds) Arsenic research and global sustainability – proceedings of the 6th international congress on arsenic in the environment. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, London, pp 615–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brammer H, Ravenscroft P (2009) Arsenic in groundwater: a threat to sustainable agriculture in South and South-east Asia. Environ Int 35:647–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Canter KP (1997) Drinking water and cancer. Cancer Causes Control 8(3):292–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Census (2011) 2011 census data. Office of the registrar general and census commissioner, India. Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  14. Chakraborti D, Mukherjee SC, Pati S, Sengupta MK, Rahman MM, Chowdhury UK, Lodh D, Chanda RC, Chakraborti AK, Basu GK (2003) Arsenic groundwater contamination in middle Ganga plain, Bihar India: a future danger. Environ Health Perspect 119(9):1194–1201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chakraborti D, Bhaskar D, Mohammad MR, Uttam KC, Bhajan B, Goswami AB, Bishwajit N, Arup P, Mrinal KS, Sad A, Amir H, Goutam B, Tarit R, Dipankar D (2009) Status of groundwater arsenic contamination in the state of West Bengal, India: a 20-year study report. Mol Nutr Food Res 53:542–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chakraborti D, Mohammad MR, Bhaskar D, Matthew M, Sankar D, Subhas CM, Ratan KD, Bhajan KB, Uttam KC, Shibtosh R, Shahariar S, Mohammad S, Mahmuder R, Quazi Q (2010) Status of groundwater arsenic contamination in Bangladesh: a 14-year study report. Water Res 44:5789–5802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chakraborti D, Mohammad MR, Amitava M, Mohammad A, Manzarul H, Rathindra ND, Shyamapada P, Subhas CM, Shibtosh R, Quazi Q, Mahmuder R, Salim M, Tanzima I, Shaharir S, Muhammad S, Muhammad RI, Muhammad MH (2015) Groundwater arsenic contamination in Bangladesh – 21 years of research. J Trace Elem Med Biol 31:237–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chakraborti D, Rahman MM, Ahamed S, Datta RN, Pati S, Mukherjee SC (2016a) Arsenic contamination of groundwater and its induced health effects in Shahpur block, Bhojpur district, Bihar state, India: risk evaluation. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(10):9492–9504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chakraborti D, Rahman MM, Ahamed S, Dutta RN, Pati S, Mukherjee SC (2016b) Arsenic groundwater contamination and its health effects in Patna district (capital of Bihar) in the middle Ganga plain, India. Chemosphere 152:520–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chakraborti D, Rahman MM, Das B, Chatterjee A, Das D, Nayak B, Pal A, Chowdhury UK, Ahmed A, Biswas BK, Sengupta MK, Hossain MA, Samanta G, Roy MM, Dutta RM, Saha KC, Mukherjee SC, Pati S, Bijoy P, Mukherjee A, Kumar M (2017) Groundwater arsenic contamination and its health effects in India. Hydrogeol J 25:1165–1181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chakraborti D, Singh SK, Rashid MH, Rahman MM (2018) Arsenic: occurrence in groundwater. In: Encyclopedia of environmental health, Elsevier, 2nd edn, pp 1–16. Scholar
  22. Chen CL, Lin IH, Hung-Yi C, Yu-Mei H, Shu-Yuan C, Meei-Maan W, Chien-Jen C (2004) Ingested arsenic, cigarette smoking, and lung cancer risk: a follow-up study in arsenic-endemic areas in Taiwan. JAMA 292(24):2984–2990CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chen Y, Fen W, Mengling L, Faruque P, Vesna S, Mahbub E, Alauddin A, Maria A, Tariqul I, Muhammad RZ, Rabiul H, Golam S, Diane L, Joseph G, Habibul A (2013) A prospective study of arsenic exposure, arsenic methylation capacity, and risk of cardiovascular diseases in Bangladesh. Environ Health Perspect 121:832–838CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chiu HF, Ho SC, Yang CY (2004) Lung cancer mortality reduction after installation of tap-water supply system in an arseniasis-endemic area in Southwestern Taiwan. Lung Cancer 46(3):265–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Clarke T (2001) Bangladeshis to sue over arsenic poisoning. Nature 413:556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Col M, Col C, Atilla S, Bekir SS, Selma O (1999) Arsenic-related Bowen’s disease, palmar keratosis, and skin cancer. Environ Health Perspect 107:687–689Google Scholar
  27. Gani A, Scrimgeour F (2014) Modelling governance and water the institutional ecological economic framework. Ecol Model 42:363–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ghosh AK, Singh SK, Bose N, Chaudhary S (2007) Arsenic contaminated aquifers: a study of the Ganga levee zones in Bihar, India. Symposium on arsenic: the geography of a global problem. Royal Geographical Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Ghosh AK, Bose N, Kumar R, Bruining H, Lourma S, Donselaar ME, Bhatt AG (2012) Geological origin of arsenic groundwater contamination in Bihar, India. In: Ng JC, Noller BN, Naidu R, Bundschuh J, Bhattacharya P (eds) Understanding the geological and medical interface of arsenic, As 2012: 85–87. CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, Leiden, pp 522–525Google Scholar
  30. Guha Mazumdar DN (2003) Chronic arsenic toxicity: clinical features, epidemiology, and treatment: experience in West Bengal. J Environ Sci Health A 38(1):141–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Guha Mazumdar DN (2008) Chronic arsenic toxicity and human health. Indian J Med Res 128:436–447Google Scholar
  32. Guo HR, Stuart RP, Howard H, Richard RM (1998) Using ecological data to estimate a regression model for individual data: the association between arsenic in drinking water and incidence of skin cancer. Environ Res 79:82–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Heck JE, Angeline SA, Tracy O, James RR, Brian PJ, Margaret RK, Eric JD (2009) Lung Cancer in a U.S. population with low to moderate arsenic exposure. Environ Health Perspect 117(11):1718–1723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hopenhayn C, Catterina F, Steven RB, Bin H, Cecilia P, Herman G, Irva HP (2003a) Arsenic exposure from drinking water and birth weight. Epidemiology 14(5):593–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hopenhayn C, Bin H, Jay C, Cecilia P, Catterina F, Raja A, David K (2003b) Profile of urinary arsenic metabolites during pregnancy. Environ Health Perspect 111(16):1888–1891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hopenhayn-Rich C, Biggs ML, Smith AH (1998) Lung and kidney cancer mortality associated with arsenic in drinking water in Cordoba, Argentina. Int J Epidemiol 27(4):561–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hossain MA, Mohammad MR, Matthew M, Bhaskar D, Bimol R, Shankar D, Debasish M, Dipankar C (2013) Water consumption patterns and factors contributing to water consumption in arsenic affected population of rural West Bengal, India. Sci Total Environ 463–464:1217–1224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huq SM, Joardar JC, Parvin S, Correl R, Naidu R (2006) Arsenic contamination in food-chain: transfer of arsenic into food materials through groundwater irrigation. J Health Popul Nutr 24(3):305–316Google Scholar
  39. Jackson BP, Vivien FT, Margaret RK, Tracy P, Kathryn LC (2012) Arsenic, organic foods and brown rice syrup. Environ Health Perspect 120(5):623–626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. James KA, Tim B, John EH, Jaymie RM, Gary OZ, Julie AM (2015) Association between lifetime exposer to inorganic arsenic in drinking water and coronary heart disease in Colorado residents. Environ Health Perspect 123(2):128–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kapaj S, Peterson H, Liber K, Bhattacharya P (2006) Human health effects from chronic arsenic poisoning: a review. J Environ Sci Health A 41:2399–2428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Khan NI, Roy B, Hong Y (2014) Household’s willingness to pay for arsenic safe drinking water in Bangladesh. J Environ Manag 143:151–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lindberg AL, Mahfuzar R, Lars-Ake P, Marie V (2008) The risk of arsenic induced skin lesions in Bangladeshi men and women is affected by arsenic metabolism and the age at first exposure. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 230:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Luster MI, Simeonova PP (2004) Arsenic and urinary bladder cell proliferation. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 198:419–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Maddison D, Catala-Luque R, David P (2005) Valuing the arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh. Environ Resour Econ 31:459–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mahanta R, Jayashree C, Hiranya KN (2016) Health costs of arsenic contamination of drinking water in Assam, India. Econ Anal Policy 49:30–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marshall G, Catterina F, Yan Y, Michael NB, Craig S, Steve S, Jane L, Allan HS (2007) Fifty-year study of lung and bladder cancer mortality in chile related to arsenic in drinking water. J Natl Cancer Inst 99(12):920–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Morales KH, Ryan L, Kuo T-L, Wu M-M, Chen C-J (2000) Risk of internal cancers from arsenic in drinking water. Environ Health Perspect 108(7):655–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. MoWR (2010a) Groundwater quality in shallow aquifers of India. Central Groundwater Board, FaridabadGoogle Scholar
  50. MoWR (2010b) Mitigation and remedy of groundwater arsenic menace in India: a vision document. National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee and Central Groundwater Board, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  51. MoWR (2014) Dynamic groundwater resources of India (As on 31st March 2011). Central Groundwater Board, FaridabadGoogle Scholar
  52. MoWR (2015) Occurrence of high arsenic content in groundwater committee on estimates (2014–15). Lok Sabha Secretariat, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  53. Murcott S (2012) Arsenic contamination in the world: an international sourcebook. IWA Publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  54. Pan WC, Wei JS, Molly LK, Elaine BH, Quazi Q, Mahmuder R, Golam M, Golam M, Quan L, David CC (2013) Association of low to moderate levels of arsenic exposure with risk of type 2 diabetes in Bangladesh. Am J Epidemiol 178(10):1563–1570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pierce BL, Argos M, Chen Y, Melkonian S, Parvez F, Islam T, Ahmad A, Hasan R, Rathouz PJ, Ahsan H (2011) Arsenic exposure, dietary patterns, and skin lesion risk in Bangladesh: a prospective study. Am J Epidemiol 173(3):345–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pitt MM, Rosenzweig MR, Hassan N (2015) Identifying the cost of a public health success: Arsenic well water contamination and productivity in Bangladesh, NBER Working Paper Series 21741. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rahman MM, Sengupta MK, Ahamed S, Chowdhury UK, Hossain MA, Das B, Lodh D, Saha KC, Pati S, Kaies I, Barua AK, Quamruzzaman Q, Chakraborti D (2005) The magnitude of arsenic contamination in groundwater and its health effects to the inhabitants of the Jalangi-one of the 85 arsenic affected blocks in West Bengal, India. Sci Total Environ 338:189–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rahman M, Marie V, Mohammad AW, Nazmul S, Mohammad Y, Peter KS, Shams EA, Abbas B, Khalequz Z, Mushtaq ARC, Eva CE, Lars AP (2006) Prevalence of arsenic exposure and skin lesions: a population based survey in Matlab, Bangladesh. J Epidemiol Community Health 60(3):242–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ravenscroft P, Brammer H, Richards K (2009) Arsenic pollution: a global synthesis, vol 94. John Willey-Blackwell, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rossman TG, Ahmed NU, Fredric JB (2004) Evidence that arsenic act as a carcinogen in skin cancer. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 198:394–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Roy J (2008) Economic benefits of arsenic removal from ground water – a case study from West Bengal, India. Sci Total Environ 397:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Saha D (2009) Arsenic groundwater contamination in parts of middle Ganga plain, Bihar. Curr Sci 96(6):1–3Google Scholar
  63. Saha D, Upadhyay S, Dhar YR, Singh R (2007) The aquifer system and evaluation of its hydraulic parameters in parts of South Ganga plain, Bihar. J Geol Soc India 69:1031–1041Google Scholar
  64. Santra SC, Samal AC, Bhattacharya P, Banerjee S, Biswas A, Majumdar J (2013) Arsenic in food chain and community health risk: a study in Gangetic West Bengal. Procedia Environ Sci 18:2–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Singh A, Choudhary SK (2011) Chemical analysis of groundwater of Nathnagar Block under Bhagalpur District, Bihar (India). J Environ Sci Eng 53(4):469–474Google Scholar
  66. Singh SK, Ghosh AK (2011) Entry of arsenic into food material – a case study. World Appl Sci J 13(2):385–390Google Scholar
  67. Singh SK, Ghosh AK (2012) Health risk assessment due to groundwater arsenic contamination: children are at high risk. Hum Ecol Risk Assess 18(4):751–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Singh SK, Ghosh AK, Kumar A, Kislay K, Kumar C, Tiwari RR, Parwez R, Kumar N, Imam MD (2014) Groundwater arsenic contamination and associated health risks in Bihar, India. Int J Environ Res 8(1):49–60Google Scholar
  69. Singh A, Bose N, Singh SK, Ghosh AK (2016a) Groundwater arsenic in alluvial aquifers: occurrence, exposure, vulnerability and human health implications. In: Bhattacharya P, Marie V, Jerker J, Jurate K, Ahmad A, Sparrenbom C, Jacks G, Donselaar ME, Bundschuh J, Naidu R (eds) Arsenic research and global sustainability – proceedings of the 6th international congress on arsenic in the environment. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, London, pp 591–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Singh SK, Brachfeld SA, Taylor RW (2016b) Evaluating hydrogeological and topographic controls in the middle-Ganga plain in India: towards developing sustainable arsenic mitigation models. In: Fares A (ed) Emerging issues in groundwater resources, advance in water security. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 263–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Singh SK, Taylor RW, Haiyan S (2017) Developing sustainable models of arsenic-mitigation technologies in the middle-Ganga plain in India. Curr Sci 113(1):80–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Singh SK, Taylor RW, Rahman MM, Pradhan B (2018) Developing robust arsenic awareness predicting models using machine learning algorithms. J Environ Manag 211:125–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Smedley PL, Kinniburgh DG (2002) A review of the source, behaviour and distribution of arsenic in natural waters. Appl Geochem 17(3):517–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Smith AH, Elena OL, Mahfuzar R (2000) Contamination of drinking-water by arsenic in Bangladesh: a public health emergency. Bull World Health Organ 78(9):1093–1103Google Scholar
  75. Steinmaus C, Yan Y, Michael NB, Allan HS (2003) Case-control study of bladder cancer and drinking water arsenic in the western United States. Am J Epidemiol 158(12):1193–1201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Thakur BK, Gupta V (2014) Arsenic contamination in groundwater and its associated health effects in Maner and Shahpur blocks of Bihar, India. In: Litter MI, Nicolli HB, Martin JM, Quici N, Bundschuh J, Bhattacharya P, Naidu R (eds) One century of the discovery of arsenicosis in Latin America (1914–2014) as 2014: proceedings of the 5th international congress on arsenic in the environment… (arsenic in the environment – proceedings). CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, pp 619–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Thakur BK, Gupta V (2016) Arsenic concentration in drinking water of Bihar: health issues and socio-economic problems. J Water Sanit Hyg Dev 6(2):331–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Thakur BK, Gupta V, Chattopadhyay U (2013) Arsenic groundwater contamination related socio-economic problems in India: issues and challenges. In: Nautiyal S, Rao KS, Kaechele H, Raju KV, Schaldach R (eds) Knowledge systems of societies for adaptation and mitigation of impacts of climate change, environmental science and engineering. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelbergh, pp 163–182Google Scholar
  79. Tseng CH, Yung-Kai H, Ya-Li H, Chi-Jung C, Mo-Hsiung Y, Chien-Jen C, Yu-Mei H (2005) Arsenic exposure, urenic arsenic speciation, and peripheral vascular disease in blackfoot disease-hyperendemic villages in Taiwan. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 206:299–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. WHO (2012) Arsenic in tube well water in Bangladesh: health and economic impacts and implications for arsenic mitigation. Bull World Health Organ 90:839–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wu H, Manonmanii K, Paul KSL, Shu-Huei H, Jian PW, Jack CN (2004) Urinary arsenic speciation and porphyrins in C57B1/6J mice chronically exposed to low doses of sodium arsenate. Toxicol Lett 154:149–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wu F, Farzana J, Muhammad GK, Mengling L, Oktawia W, Faruque P, Ronald R, Shantanu R, Rachelle PB, Stephanie S, Vesna S, Tariqul I, Dian EL, Jacob LM, Alexander VG, Joseph HG, Habibul A, Yu C (2012) Association between arsenic exposure from drinking water and plasma levels of cardiovascular markers. Am J Epidemiol 175(12):1252–1261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Xia Y, Liu J (2004) An overview on chronic arsenism via drinking water in PR China. Toxicology 198:25–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barun Kumar Thakur
    • 1
  • Vijaya Gupta
    • 2
  1. 1.FLAME UniversityPuneIndia
  2. 2.National Institute of Industrial EngineeringMumbaiIndia

Personalised recommendations