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         8 February 2002

Arsenic pollution of drinking water extracted from groundwater aquifers has become a problem of tremendous dimensions throughout Asia. The number of people potentially impacted by this health crisis is far greater than that for any other individual problem facing humanity today. It is estimated that more than 35 million people are consuming arsenic-polluted water in Bangladesh alone, while several thousand patients suffering from arsenic-related diseases have already been reported in India and China. The effects of drinking arsenic-contaminated water include skin lesions and cancers, gangrene, and internal cancers of the bladder, kidney and lungs.

The arsenic pollution crisis is most severe in Bangladesh and India (West Bengal), but significant populations in China, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as several Latin American countries, are at risk. It is a complex problem, involving both technological and policy challenges, whose solution requires clear thinking and a comprehensive strategic response.

The United Nations University (UNU) and Japan National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) have joined hands to hold an international workshop designed to serve as a forward step in understanding the problem and developing an effective, comprehensive strategy. "Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater - Technical and Policy Dimensions" will be held on 18 February 2002 at the UN House in Tokyo.

Experts from affected countries - Bangladesh, China and India - will present the most recent updates on the arsenic crisis. They will be joined by experts and researchers from a number of related institutions, including the World Health Organization, Hokkaido University and University of Tokyo, who will present findings of their latest research on the subject. The workshop builds on the previous work of the organizing institutions and their partners.

The workshop is free and open to the public; no registration is required. Media representatives are cordially invited to attend. A copy of the workshop programme is attached for your reference.

For further information, contact the UNU Public Affairs section or visit the workshop website (

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For further information please contact

UNU Public Affairs Section:
Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346




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