WASHINGTON – Up to 60 million people in Pakistan are at risk of arsenic poisoning from contaminated groundwater in the Indus River plain, according to research published Wednesday.
The study, which was led by Joel Podgorski of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, found that “much of the Indus Plain is likely to have elevated arsenic concentrations.”
Podgorski and his team analyzed 1,200 samples, and found that while most of the country was safe, areas along the Indus River were contaminated.
Between 50-60 million people who depend on the water consume about 50 milligrams of arsenic per liter of water, five times higher than what the World Health Organization considers safe.
According to the researchers, the contamination levels are “alarmingly high” and urged Pakistani authorities to verify and test wells in the affected area.
High concentrations of arsenic can lead to skin disorders, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.