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Global Health
October 16, 2013

Predicting Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater

JAMA. 2013;310(15):1551. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280605

A new statistical model used to predict the risk of arsenic contamination in groundwater across China estimates that 19.6 million people live in areas that put them at high risk of exposure to this poisonous chemical (Rodriquez-Lado L et al. Science. 2013;341[6148]:866-868).

Researchers from China and Spain developed a tool to predict groundwater contamination to obviate the need to test every well in China—a laborious process begun by the Chinese Ministry of Health in 2001 that will not be completed for decades. The researchers combined data from the Chinese National Survey program, population data, and freely available geospatial information about aspects such as soil salinity and topography, which can serve as a proxy for areas of probable arsenic contamination. They estimated health risk based on the World Health Organization’s guideline for arsenic consumption of 10 µg/L.