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Multi-isotope fingerprints to identify agricultural contaminants from soil to water







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    Book (stand-alone)
    Arsenic contamination of irrigation water, soil and crops in Bangladesh: risk implications for sustainable agriculture and food safety in Asia 2006
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    Arsenic in groundwater is a major health concern in Asia and the risks from using shallow tubewells for drinking-water are well known. At present, 12 countries in the region have reported high arsenic levels in parts of their groundwater and recent studies have documented the potential risks from arsenic in irrigation water. The most well known concern is arsenic contamination entering the food chain, affecting food safety. This poses a potential dietary risk to human health in addition to the r isk from drinking contaminated groundwater. Less well known but potentially more serious is the risk to crop production. Continuous build up of arsenic in the soil from arsenic contaminated irrigation water may reduce crop yields, thus affecting the nutritional status and incomes of rural farming communities. As part of the green revolution, millions of shallow tubewells were installed throughout Asia over the last three decades. This resulted in a sharp increase of groundwater extraction for ir rigation. Considering the high number of arsenic contaminated tubewells, the amount of contaminated irrigation water entering the soil and its effects on crop yields and toxity to plants as well as to livestock and freshwater fisheries are of urgent concern. This must-read technical report for those involved with the issue of arsenic in irrigation water examines the available knowledge to date, focusing on Bangladesh where most studies on arsenic contaminated irrigation water have been carried o ut. Specific attention is given to rice owing to its importance in Asia and because it is one of the crops most sensitive to arsenic contamination. The report identifies knowledge gaps, the risks to food safety and crop production and the possible threat to sustainable development in the region. The author provides recommendations to key stakeholders concerned and advocates an integrated regional programme covering both crop production and food safety aspects within the framework of land degrada tion. Most importantly, the scale of the problem needs to be quantified and appropriate management options developed and disseminated.

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