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CHEMRAWN Committee


Number: 2003-050-1-021

Title: Solving the problem of arsenic contamination in water in Bangladesh - Workshop on

Task Group
Satinder (Sut) Ahuja and John M. Malin

Members: S. K. Airee, Catherine Costello, and Bradley Miller

Completion Date: 2006 - project completed

Hold a workshop-planning meeting at Dhaka University in the first quarter of 2004, to prepare for organization of a larger Regional Workshop in late 2004 or early 2005.

Naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater contaminates the tube wells in Bangladesh. It is seriously affecting the health of more than 60 million people, as it ultimately leads to a slow and painful death for many. Furthermore, this problem can also affect the water supplies in a number of other countries, such as Argentina, Chile, France, India, and the United States. The problem was described in some detail in the Chemical and Engineering News issue of October 21, 2002.

The IUPAC CHEMRAWN Committee is planning a conference entitled CHEMRAWN XV: Chemistry for Water to be held in June 2004 in Paris. To delineate the current situation regarding water quality in Bangladesh, we propose to hold a workshop-planning meeting on Solving the Problem of Arsenic Contamination in Water in Bangladesh as a pre-CHEMRAWN XV event. The results of that first meeting will be reported upon at CHEMRAWN XV and will also form the basis of a plan for a larger, Regional Workshop that will be organized in Bangladesh late in 2004 or early in 2005.

Dr. Sut Ahuja made a worldwide appeal in a letter to the editor of C&EN of June 9, 2003, wherein chemists and chemical engineers were asked to offer their suggestions to rectify this problem. Numerous responses and suggestions were received from various parts of the world. A request was then made to American Chemical Society to support this project through their Office of International Activities. At the September 6, 2003, meeting in New York, IAC unanimously approved this project, which will enable chemists and chemical engineers worldwide to play a significant role, in that they can help purify water that has been contaminated by nature. The solutions of the problem range from chemical reaction to various separation techniques that entail adsorption, ion exchange, or membrane filtration. It is believed the optimum solution will help millions of people throughout the world and reinforce the idea that chemists help resolve pollution problems for betterment of the world.

To address the objectives stated above, we propose to hold the workshop-planning meeting in Bangladesh in January 2004, where discussions will be held with the Head of the Chemistry Department of Dhaka University; with Dr. Mosihuzzamann, Chair of Bangladesh Chemical Society; and with representatives of government agencies. At that time we will be able to meet also with Dr. Abul Hussam who will be visiting his homeland. Prof. Hussam, of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA., is very knowledgeable in the area of water quality. He is originally from Bangladesh, and his help will be of great value in the organization of the planning meeting and the Regional Workshop. In the course of these planning sessions, we will (1) determine which notable international scientists should be brought to the Regional Workshop to meet with local scientists who are actively addressing the problem, and (2) evaluate how we can involve local government agencies to assist in implementation of the solutions proposed. To this end, contacts have been made with most of the individuals listed above.

Plans for a workshop to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 11-13 December 2005 are being finalized:
(watch out for new dates!!)
contact: Dr. Satinder Ahuja
Senior Research Fellow, Novartis Corporation (retired)
1061 Rutledge Court
Calabash, NC 28467 United States
Tel.: +1 910 287-2765
E-mail: [email protected]

The workshop will address the following questions:

1. By what mechanism(s) does arsenic (As) enter the groundwater in Bangladesh and elsewhere?
2. What low-cost methods are available to determine As concentrations in groundwater? What new methods need to be developed?
3. What procedures exist or can be devised to remove As economically?
4. What is an economically practical action plan for implementing appropriate remediation technologies?

This project was presented at a poster session at the IUPAC Congress/GA July 2005
>view pdf - 3.21MB<

Workshop on Origins and Remediation of Groundwater Contamination by Arsenic
11-13 December 2005

A report of the workshop is published in Chem. Int. May-June 2006, p. 14-17

Project completed

Last update: 25 May 2006

Remarks: another IUPAC project, complementary to this one, is coordinated within the Chemistry and the Environment Division > see project 2003-017-2-600

<announcement published in Chem. Int 27(5), 2005>


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