Epidemiological and Social Dimension of Arsenic Toxicity: A Case Study of West Bengal, India

Mohua Guha, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Kamla Gupta, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

Arsenic in drinking water is one of the most serious inorganic contaminants with toxic properties. Arsenic morbidities pose an important public health problem because the advanced symptoms are painful and incorrect assumption of infectiousness of the disease leads to stigmatization of afflicted individuals. This paper tries to examine the gender differentials in arsenic-specific morbidities along with dose-response relationship and to explore its social consequences on people’s lives and interaction with kins, friends and neighbours. A cross-sectional case-control study was conducted in Murshidabad district of West Bengal covering a sample of 360 households. Skin lesions were found in one-third of the sampled population with a history of exposure of more than 15 years. The prevalence rate show an increasing trend for both the sexes with progressive higher levels of arsenic concentration and increasing age. The gaps in knowledge and perception are causing negative social impacts, which include isolation, avoidance and rejection.

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Presented in Poster Session 4