Environmental pollution and the endangered population: a case study of arsenic-induced morbidity in West Bengal

Mohua Guha, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Kamla Gupta, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Dewaram A. Nagdeve, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

The pandemic of arsenic poisoning in the Gangetic Plain through drinking water has exposed population to adverse health outcomes especially skin manifestations. A cross-sectional case-control study was conducted in Malda district, West Bengal to study the effect of arsenic in drinking water. Four case and two control villages were chosen according to ranking by arsenic levels in the tubewells after matching socio-economic and demographic parameters. 120 and 60 households each in case and control villages were selected randomly. Out of 973 respondents who were interviewed and examined, 152 were suspected cases of Arsenical Dermatitis. Individual exposure was assessed through dose index calculated by dividing arsenic levels by body weight. The crude prevalence rate of skin lesions was 21/100 and 4/100 in case and control villages respectively. After age-adjustment, it was 23/100 and 7/100 for males and females respectively, supporting the hypothesis that men are more susceptible to arsenic-induced skin lesions.

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Presented in Poster Session 3