Is enough being done to make drinking water safe?

May 30, 2013

There is a lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of technologies used to reduce arsenic contamination finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Evidence. More studies assessing the technologies themselves and how they are used in the community are needed to ensure that people have access to safe, clean water.

Arsenic is now recognised to be one of the world's greatest , threatening the lives of several hundred million people. Naturally occurring arsenic leaches into from surrounding rocks and once in the water supply it is both toxic and carcinogenic to anyone drinking it. It is colourless and odourless and consequently people use it instead of more obviously polluted surface water. Natural arsenic pollution affects 21 countries across the world sometimes reaching a concentration more than ten times the WHO guidelines.

There are several methods available for removing arsenic from . Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School (supported by the National Institute for Health for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC), compared 8 different technologies all of which claim to make drinking water safe. They found that most of the studies reviewed were found to be of poor quality and missing data and that only two technologies showed good evidence of effectiveness.

Lack of data was not the only problem with these technologies. Dr Mark Pearson, who led this study, explained, "Combining the qualitative results it became clear that a major problem was the reluctance of the user. Many people in affected regions, even if aware of the problems with arsenic, believe that they will not be affected, or find the technologies too difficult to use and maintain."

Dr Pearson continued, "It is imperative that more data is made available for decision makers to choose the most appropriate and effective technology for ensuring clean safe water. For any technology to be successful it also needs to take into account how acceptable the technology is to users, how people perceive the problem, the role of women in society and how to instil a sense of ownership into the community."

Explore further: Arsenic in drinking water linked to lung disease

More information: Are interventions to reduce the impact of arsenic contamination of groundwater on human health in developing countries effective? A systematic review, Tracey Jones-Hughes, Jaime Peters, Rebecca Whear, Chris Cooper, Hywel Evans, Michael Depledge and Mark Pearson Environmental Evidence 2013 2:11, doi:10.1186/2047-2382-2-11

Related Stories

Arsenic in drinking water linked to lung disease

December 6, 2012
New research from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has uncovered likely mechanisms for the link between arsenic in drinking water and increased risk of developing chronic lung disease.

Widely used filtering material adds arsenic to beers

April 7, 2013
The mystery of how arsenic levels in beer sold in Germany could be higher than in the water or other ingredients used to brew the beer has been solved, scientists announced here today at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition ...

Arsenic for better drugs and cleaner crops

June 25, 2012
Research carried out at the University of Gothenburg may lead to more effective arsenic-containing drugs. The results may also lead to more resistant plants, and crops with a limited absorption and storage of arsenic.

Recommended for you

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

Study: Eating at 'wrong time' affects body weight, circadian rhythms

July 18, 2017
A new high-precision feeding system for lab mice reinforces the idea that the time of day food is eaten is more critical to weight loss than the amount of calories ingested.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.