• A recent peer-reviewed study suggests that even low levels of arsenic consumption may impact cognitive function in children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • The study found out that those exposed to arsenic had reduced grey matter (brain tissue that is vital to cognitive functions) and weaker connections within key regions of the brain that enable concentration, switching between tasks, and temporary storage of information.


  • It is an odourless and tasteless metalloid widely distributed in the earth’s crust.
  • It is naturally present at high levels in the earth crust and groundwater of a number of countries.
  • In India, the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Chhattisgarh are reported to be most affected by arsenic contamination of groundwater above the permissible level.
  • It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.


  • Arsenicosis (arsenic poisoning) occurs due to accumulation of large amounts of arsenic in the body.
  • It leads to adverse health effects through inhibition of essential enzymes, which ultimately leads to death from multi-system organ failure.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • In utero and early childhood exposure has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults.


  • Encourage piped water access rather than groundwater extraction,
  • Install arsenic removal plants and
  • If groundwater extraction is inevitable – encourage extraction from aquifers (water channels below the ground) that are deeper than 100 m, instead of shallower aquifers, which generally contain higher amounts of arsenic.
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