Saturday January 18, 2020

Cost And Efficiency Of Arsenic Removal From Groundwater: WHO

From 2014 to 2018, over 17,400 arsenic-related publications were published and "there is a myriad of reportedly alow-cost' technologies for treating arsenic-contaminated water.

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Cost And Efficiency Of Arsenic Removal From Groundwater: WHO VOA

Only five of the 14 technologies designed to remove arsenic from groundwater — a health threat to at least 140 million people in 50 countries — tested also in India reached levels of the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, a United Nations University study said on Thursday.

But all the 14 technologies achieved removal efficiency levels ranging from 60 to 99 per cent, with 10 removing more than 90 per cent.

This fact came to light in a report, “Cost and Efficiency of Arsenic Removal from Groundwater: A Review”, by United Nations University’s Canada-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

It said technologies that demonstrate high removal efficiencies when treating moderately arsenic-contaminated water may not be as efficient when treating highly contaminated water.

Also, the lifetime of the removal agents is a significant factor in determining their efficiency.

The 14 technologies tested in the field — at the household or community level — are in Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Nicaragua, besides India.

It also studied 23 technologies independently tested in laboratory settings using groundwater from nine countries — Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Guatemala, India, Thailand, the US and Vietnam — and demonstrated efficiencies ranging from 50 to 100 per cent, with a majority reaching above 90 per cent.

About half of these technologies achieved the WHO standard of 10 Aug/L (micrograms per litre).

The study compares for the first time the effectiveness and costs of many different technologies designed to remove arsenic from groundwater.

Ebola, pregnant women
Serious health, social and economic losses are caused worldwide by arsenic-contaminated water and a wide range of technologies exists to remove it but “their widespread application remains limited”, said the report. VOA

It draws on 31 peer-reviewed, comparable research papers published between 1996 and 2018, each describing new technologies tested in laboratories and or in field studies.

And while no single technology offers a universal solution, the research helps point to remedies likely to prove most economical and efficient given the many variables present in different locations worldwide.

Serious health, social and economic losses are caused worldwide by arsenic-contaminated water and a wide range of technologies exists to remove it but “their widespread application remains limited”, said the report.

From 2014 to 2018, over 17,400 arsenic-related publications were published and “there is a myriad of reportedly alow-cost’ technologies for treating arsenic-contaminated water.

“But the specific costs associated with these technologies are rarely documented,” said Duminda Perera, a Senior Researcher at Institute for Water, Environment and Health and report co-author.

WHO
Arsenic-related health complications and mortality also lead to significant economic losses due to lost productivity.

The report notes that “arsenic-removal technology should only be seen as efficient if it can bring the water to the WHO standard”

In 2010, WHO’s recommended a drinking water limit of 10 Aug/L, but countries with resource constraints or certain environmental circumstances e.g. typically high arsenic concentrations in groundwater have much higher, easier-to-reach concentration targets.

“While this may help national policymakers report better results for their national arsenic reduction efforts, it may have the opposite effect on public health,” the report said.

“Higher thresholds will not help solve this public health crisis. On the contrary, if a country has a feeling that the arsenic situation is coming under control, this may reduce the sense of urgency in policy circles to eradicate the problem, while the population continues to suffer from arsenic poisoning.”

It is estimated that in Bangladesh, for example, where the nationally-acceptable arsenic limit in water is set to 50 Aug/L, more than 20 million people consume water with arsenic levels even higher than the national standard.

And globally, despite international efforts, millions of people globally continue to be exposed to concentrations reaching 100 Aug/L or more.

Also Read: Pakistan Removes Taxes From Manufacture of Renewable To Overcome Power Shortage

Leading authors Yina Shan and Praem Mehta noted that exposure to arsenic can lead to severe health, social and economic consequences, including arsenicosis e.g. muscular weakness and mild psychological effects), skin lesions and cancers — lung, liver, kidney, bladder and skin.
The economic burden in Bangladesh is projected to reach $13.8 billion by around 2030. (IANS)

Next Story

Here’s How Fitbit Smartwatch May Help You Predict Flu in Real-Time

The authors identify several limitations in their study

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Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate. Pixabay

In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users.

Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate.

Influenza results in 650,000 deaths worldwide annually. And approximately 7 per cent of working adults and 20 per cent of children aged under five years get flu each year.

“Responding more quickly to influenza outbreaks can prevent further spread and infection, and we were curious to see if sensor data could improve real-time surveillance at the state level,” said study author Dr Jennifer Radin from Scripps Research Translational Institute.

The researchers reviewed de-identified data from 200,000 users who wore a Fitbit wearable device that tracks users’ activity, heart rate and sleep for at least 60 days during the study time.

fitbit
In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users. Pixabay

From the 200,000, 47,248 users from California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania wore a Fitbit device consistently during the study period, resulting in a total of 13,342,651 daily measurements evaluated.

The average user was 43 years old and 60 per cent were female.

De-identified data from the users retrospectively identified weeks with elevated resting heart rate and changes to routine sleep, said the research published in The Lancet Digital Health journal.

“In the future as these devices improve, and with access to 24/7 real-time data, it may be possible to identify rates of influenza on a daily instead of weekly basis,” said Radin.

This data was compared to weekly estimates for influenza-like illness rates reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time.

With greater volumes of data it may be possible to apply the method to more geographically refined areas, such as county or city-level.

The authors identify several limitations in their study.

Weekly resting heart rate averages may include days when an individual is both sick and not sick, and this may result in underestimation of illness by lowering the weekly averages.

Fitbit
This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time. Pixabay

Other factors may also increase resting heart rate, including stress or other infections.

ALSO READ: Most Advanced Radiation Therapy For Cancer Patients Arrives in India

Lastly, the authors noted that previous studies of sleep measuring devices have been found to have low accuracy, though they said that accuracy will continue to improve as technology evolves. (IANS)