A comprehensive strategy to tackle arsenic contamination of drinking water in Uttar Pradesh in India

Exposure to naturally occurring arsenic through consumption of contaminated groundwater, food and soil is now widely recognized as a new threat to public health in several countries in South and South-East Asia, including parts of India. The realization that arsenic not only occurs in groundwater used for drinking in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta of West Bengal in India, but also further upstream in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the middle and upper Gangetic plains, has necessitated the need to develop arsenic testing and mitigation strategies in these states. This paper outlines the strategy evolved by the state government of Uttar Pradesh, with the support of UNICEF, to tackle the problem of arsenic in groundwater used for drinking. The comprehensive approach includes testing, communication, mitigation and health aspects, and novel strategies used to overcome technological issues are detailed. A similar approach has been used in the neighbouring state of Bihar.