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Stopping Arsenic Poisoning in India

Stopping Arsenic Poisoning in India by Dr. Ashok Gadgil

Speaker: Dr Ashok Gadgil


About 150 million people in Bangladesh and the nearby Indian states are exposed to very high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater, which is their main source of drinking water. The World Health Organization (WHO recommends a maximum contaminant limit (MCL) for arsenic in drinking water of 10 μg/litre. In some areas of India, arsenic levels are as high as 1200 μg/litre.

In 2000 WHO rightly called this the largest case of mass poisoning in recorded history. Despite 30 years of public knowledge about arsenic-bearing drinking water in rural West Bengal and Bangladesh, only a minute fraction (<1% in 2006) of the exposed population has access to arsenic-remediated drinking water. Meeting this challenge requires both effective technology and sensitivity to social dynamics.

A technology invented in Berkeley for affordable and reliable arsenic remediation of groundwater has been successfully scaled up and is operating in a community in West Bengal since 2016. We describe key lessons learned in that process, research progress since 2016, and current status.

Bio of Speaker  

Dr Gadgil holds a concurrent appointment on the UC Berkeley Campus as Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) as Faculty Senior Scientist.

At UC Berkeley, Dr Gadgil is a Distinguished Chair Professor of Safe Water and Sanitation in CEE.

He is the PI and Faculty Director of Development Impact Lab and the Clean Energy Research Center for Water-Energy Technologies.

At LBNL Dr Gadgil is a Senior Faculty Scientist in the Energy Technologies Area. He has a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. His expertise ranges from computational fluid dynamics of indoor air and pollutant flows, simulation of entry and transport of indoor radon, building energy efficiency, and methods to treat drinking water to make it potable. He has more than 105 refereed archival journal papers, 150 conference papers, and several patents.


Event Date: 
Thursday, 10 September 2020 - 9:30am to 11:00am