Possible Policies to reduce arsenic pollution

My another on-site supervisor, Dr. Peter Sprang, arrived at IRRI on July 20. He is a specialist in global sustainable development, especially in rice-based system. Therefore, his advice will be quite helpful for my research. We had an in-depth discussion about the potential strategies to deal with arsenic pollution. I first introduced why arsenic pollution is now a global environmental issue, and its negative impacts to the human society. Then he asked several questions about the detailed information of different countries. My project focuses specifically on Southeast Asia countries and China, as they are the major rice-production countries. I pointed out that the national standard of Bangladesh for arsenic in water is higher than the FAO standard. It would be difficult for Bangladesh to accurately recognize its current arsenic contamination. Dr. Sprang said that Bangladesh is one of the most typical cases of arsenic pollution and has been studied by a lot of researchers. He provided one possibility for me to think about. The general arsenic level in Bangladesh is higher than other areas, so it is reasonable to have relatively loose standard, as people there have already got used to it and might not think it is a huge problem.

I also mentioned the economic difficulty for developing areas to implement the strategies, since some of them might be too expensive. Dr. Sprang provided me some new ideas from his perspective, and we discussed their feasibility. One of the strategies is to polish the rice. Based on previous studies, polished rice can eliminate up to 50% of arsenic, while the negative side is that it will also eliminate other nutrients. Another one is to pump deeper ground water which has not been polluted for irrigation and daily needs.

All of these policies and strategies require the government to notice the issue and actually take actions.

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