Human Health Hazards Due to Arsenic and Fluoride Contamination in Drinking Water and Food Chain

  • Gautam GhoshEmail author
  • Dipak K. Mukhopadhyay


Man interacts with the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and the lithosphere for sustaining himself on earth. This interaction ranges from the level of regional pattern of climate, geography and geology to different elements in rock, soil and water. In the universe, lighter elements are more frequently encountered than the heavier ones. In the Periodic Table of elements, the first 26 elements comprise, by weight, 99% of the continental crust. Again out of these 26, the first 20 make up more than 99% by weight of the human body. The living tissue of both animals and plants comprise 11 elements such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, phosphorus, sulphur, nitrogen and chlorine. Iron is present in those species that have haemoglobin. Besides these 11 elements, the living tissue also requires certain other elements for functioning properly. These elements, available in traces, constitute the substances that help to regulate the different processes of life. Trace elements, necessary for nutrition, include fluorine, chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt, copper, zinc, selenium, molybdenum and iodine. Nickel, aluminum, arsenic and barium are observed to concentrate in human tissues with age. Concentration of trace elements generally is found to increase from rock to soil to water to plants to animals. Many trace elements, beyond certain levels of concentration, often cause serious health problems, when the human body is exposed to them (Keller 1985). Arsenic and fluoride have precipitated health issues of grave concern (Mathur 2004).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey of IndiaKolkataIndia

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