UNICEF Policy Brief
Mitigating arsenic in drinking water
Naturally occurring arsenic contamination of groundwater is a serious public health risk. Arsenic has been detected in at least 70 countries and could affect more than 140 million people.
Arsenic contamination of drinking water is invisible, tasteless and odorless and the effects of ingestion are not apparent in the short term. Continued exposure to high levels of arsenic from drinking water and food can give rise to arsenicosis which is a painful and debilitating skin
condition. This can also dramatically increases the risks of morbidity and mortality from cancers and heart, lung, kidney and liver disease that are not necessarily preceded by arsenicosis. Arsenic is readily absorbed in utero increasing the risk of stillbirth and the intake of arsenic by children (per unit body mass) is higher than that of adults increasing the risk of impaired intellectual development and associated impacts later in life.