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Earth Institute Research Projects

Does Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh Raise Exposure to Bacterial and Viral Pathogens?

Lead PI: Dr. Alexander F. Van Geen , Professor Patricia J. Culligan , Brian J. Mailloux

Unit Affiliation: Columbia Engineering

January 2007 - December 2011
Inactive
Asia ; Bangladesh
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: By building on a new understanding of how differences in local recharge of shallow aquifers are related to the geology of fluvio-deltaic aquifers, a knowledge that came out of on-going work focused on arsenic by Columbia University and partners in Bangladesh, this study seeks to explore, to our knowledge for the first time, whether spatial and temporal patterns in the distribution of certain forms of diarrheal disease are also influenced by local hydrogeology. Two recent findings motivate this study. The first is that the red paint applied on millions of private tubewells in Bangladesh containing >50 ug/L arsenic (the local standard, which is 5-fold higher than the WHO guideline of 10 ug/L) has led approximately one third of the exposed population to switch its consumption of untreated groundwater to a nearby well painted green because it contained <50 ug/L As (Ahmed, 2006). The second is the outcome of detailed field investigations in Columbia University's main study area of Araihazar showing that shallow (<20 m deep) tubewells that are low in As are typically located in areas where shallow sandy aquifers extend essentially to the surface, whereas shallow tubewells that are high in As are located in areas where shallow aquifers are capped by a low hydraulic conductivity layer of mud (i.e. clay or fine grained silt). Therefore, well testing for arsenic has re-directed a large proportion of the Bangladesh population towards drinking untreated groundwater from shallow aquifers that are relatively unprotected from the widespread microbial contamination of surface water bodies of the region due to poor sanitation. The concern is that, whereas well-switching had the undoubted benefit of reducing As exposure, it may also have had the unintended consequence of increasing human-exposure to microbial pathogens. Clearly, the goal of public health interventions in Bangladesh, and similarly affected countries, should be to reduce exposure to arsenic without increasing exposure to microbial pathogens. In support of this important goal, this team of investigators proposes to generate new knowledge concerning the ecology of organisms causing diarrheal disease in developing countries, by investigating the potential linkages between hydrogeology, the distribution of microbial pathogens in shallow aquifers and the occurrence of diarrheal disease in a large and well-studied population. We also aim to develop and test preliminary methods for predicting the occurrence of pathogen-contamination in aquifers based on occurrence of arsenic (which is already widely-monitored) and hydrogeologic/geomorphic setting (based on satellite imagery, field mapping and near-surface geophysics).

SPONSOR:

National Institute of Health Emerging Infectious Diseases - Collaborative Research

FUNDED AMOUNT:

$1,500,000

RESEARCH TEAM:

Michael Emch, Larry McKay

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY COLLABORATORS:

Barnard University

EXTERNAL COLLABORATORS:

University of North Carolina, University of Tennesse

PUBLICATIONS:

Ali, Y., Dohi, K., Okamoto, R., Katayama, K., & Ito, M. (2019). Novel molecular mechanisms in the inhibition of adrenal aldosterone synthesis: Action of tolvaptan via vasopressin V2 receptor‐independent pathway. British journal of pharmacology, 176(9), 1315-1327.

Wu, J., Yunus, M., Ali, M., Escamilla, V., & Emch, M. (2018). Influences of heatwave, rainfall, and tree cover on cholera in Bangladesh. Environment international, 120, 304-311.

Wu, J., Yunus, M., Islam, M. S., & Emch, M. (2016). Influence of Climate Extremes and Land Use on Fecal Contamination of Shallow Tubewells in Bangladesh. Environmental science & technology, 50(5), 2669–2676. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b05193

Wu, J., Gronewold, A. D., Rodriguez, R. A., Stewart, J. R., & Sobsey, M. D. (2014). Integrating quantitative PCR and Bayesian statistics in quantifying human adenoviruses in small volumes of source water. Science of the Total Environment, 470, 255-262.

Knappett, P. S. K., Du, J., Liu, P., Horvath, V., Mailloux, B. J., Feighery, J., ... & Culligan, P. J. (2014). Importance of reversible attachment in predicting E. coli transport in saturated aquifers from column experiments. Advances in water resources, 63, 120-130.

Feighery, J., Mailloux, B. J., Ferguson, A. S., Ahmed, K. M., van Geen, A., & Culligan, P. J. (2013). Transport of E. coli in aquifer sediments of Bangladesh: implications for widespread microbial contamination of groundwater. Water resources research, 49(7), 3897-3911.

Knappett, P. S., McKay, L. D., Layton, A., Williams, D. E., Alam, M. J., Mailloux, B. J., ... & Ahmed, K. M. (2012). Unsealed tubewells lead to increased fecal contamination of drinking water. Journal of water and health, 10(4), 565-578.

Mailloux, B. J., Dochenetz, A., Bishop, M., Dong, H., Ziolkowski, L. A., Wommack, K. E., ... & Slater, G. F. (2012). A carbon free filter for collection of large volume samples of cellular biomass from oligotrophic waters. Journal of microbiological methods, 90(3), 145-151.

Ferguson, A. S., Layton, A. C., Mailloux, B. J., Culligan, P. J., Williams, D. E., Smartt, A. E., ... & Alexandrova, E. (2012). Comparison of fecal indicators with pathogenic bacteria and rotavirus in groundwater. Science of the Total Environment, 431, 314-322.

Knappett, P. S., McKay, L. D., Layton, A., Williams, D. E., Alam, M. J., Huq, M. R., ... & Zhuang, J. (2012). Implications of fecal bacteria input from latrine-polluted ponds for wells in sandy aquifers. Environmental science & technology, 46(3), 1361-1370.

Ferguson, A. S., Mailloux, B. J., Ahmed, K. M., van Geen, A., McKay, L. D., & Culligan, P. J. (2011). Hand-pumps as reservoirs for microbial contamination of well water. Journal of water and health, 9(4), 708-717.

Knappett, P. S., Escamilla, V., Layton, A., McKay, L. D., Emch, M., Williams, D. E., ... & Ferguson, A. (2011). Impact of population and latrines on fecal contamination of ponds in rural Bangladesh. Science of the Total Environment, 409(17), 3174-3182.

Escamilla, V., Wagner, B., Yunus, M., Streatfield, P. K., Van Geen, A., & Emch, M. (2011). Effect of deep tube well use on childhood diarrhoea in Bangladesh. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89, 521-527.

Giebultowicz, S., Ali, M., Yunus, M., & Emch, M. (2011). A comparison of spatial and social clustering of cholera in Matlab, Bangladesh. Health & place, 17(2), 490-497.

van Geen, A., Ahmed, K. M., Akita, Y., Alam, M. J., Culligan, P. J., Emch, M., ... & Layton, A. C. (2011). Fecal contamination of shallow tubewells in Bangladesh inversely related to arsenic. Environmental science & technology, 45(4), 1199-1205.

Leber, J., Rahman, M. M., Ahmed, K. M., Mailloux, B., & van Geen, A. (2011). Contrasting influence of geology on E. coli and arsenic in aquifers of Bangladesh. Groundwater, 49(1), 111-123.

Knappett, P. S., Layton, A., McKay, L. D., Williams, D., Mailloux, B. J., Huq, M. R., ... & Sayler, G. S. (2011). Efficacy of hollow‐fiber ultrafiltration for microbial sampling in groundwater. Groundwater, 49(1), 53-65.

Wu, J., Yunus, M., Streatfield, P. K., van Geen, A., Escamilla, V., Akita, Y., ... & Emch, M. (2011). Impact of tubewell access and tubewell depth on childhood diarrhea in Matlab, Bangladesh. Environmental Health, 10(1), 109.

Wu, J., van Geen, A., Ahmed, K. M., Alam, Y. A. J., Culligan, P. J., Escamilla, V., ... & McKay, L. D. (2011). Increase in diarrheal disease associated with arsenic mitigation in Bangladesh. PloS one, 6(12), e29593.

Emch, M., Yunus, M., Escamilla, V., Feldacker, C., & Ali, M. (2010). Local population and regional environmental drivers of cholera in Bangladesh. Environmental Health, 9(1), 2.

Carrel, M., Voss, P., Streatfield, P. K., Yunus, M., & Emch, M. (2010). Protection from annual flooding is correlated with increased cholera prevalence in Bangladesh: a zero-inflated regression analysis. Environmental health, 9(1), 13.

Carrel, M., Emch, M., Streatfield, P. K., & Yunus, M. (2009). Spatio-temporal clustering of cholera: The impact of flood control in Matlab, Bangladesh, 1983–2003. Health & place, 15(3), 771-782.

KEYWORDS

diarrheal disease water aquifers groundwater wells sanitation arsenic (as) hydrogeology