In attempting to eliminate disease caused by drinking polluted surface water, millions of tube-wells were drilled in Bangladesh. However, owing to arsenic in groundwater, the availability of safe drinking water has declined from earlier achievement of 97% to 51.2%. This article reviews the causes and distribution of arsenic concentration in rural Bangladesh from a wide variety of literature. Scientists have converged to two hypotheses for causes of arsenic in groundwater: the pyrite oxidation hypothesis and the oxy-hydroxide reduction hypothesis. There is a positive correlation between arsenic content in irrigated groundwater and arsenic contained in soils. There is a significant presence of arsenic in rice and leafy vegetables. Today, arsenic is causing toxicity to human health and creating major social problems. This finding implies that, had there been a precautionary measure taken when a new technology tube-well was being introduced, in the form of testing water for harmful metals, the risk that the rural population is facing now could have been drastically reduced. This lack of precautionary measure, before starting a mass installation of tube-wells for drinking and irrigation should be seen as a “human error” and avoided in future water policy and planning.

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