50 million at risk of arsenic poisoning in Pakistan, study shows

ISLAMABAD – A new study suggests some 50 million people living across Pakistan’s Indus Valley are at risk of arsenic poisoning from tainted groundwater.

A Pakistani government research official acknowledged Wednesday that arsenic levels were rising, blaming the “brutal” exploitation of underground aquifers.

The study’s authors determined some 50 million Pakistanis were at risk after building a map highlighting areas of likely contamination based on water quality data from nearly 1,200 groundwater pumps as well as geological factors including surface slope and soil contents.

Lead author Joel Podgorski, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, says “this is an alarmingly high number” that underlines an urgent need to test tube wells across the vast, agricultural region.

The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

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