Arsenic contamination of drinking water and mitigation in Pakistan: A case of Indus River basin

Document Type

Book Chapter






Ali Fares, Sushant K. Singh


Advances in Water Security

Publication (Name of Journal)

Arsenic water resources contamination: Challenges and solutions


Community Health Sciences


Springer Cham




Most of the arsenic-exposed population of the globe reside in South Asia. Over 100 million people living around the basin of the Ganges River in Bangladesh and West Bengal in India alone are exposed to arsenic through underground drinking water, and have received much attention. Millions in Pakistan also are exposed to arsenic through underground drinking water along the basin of Indus River. However, it has not raised eyebrows for health workers and policymakers in Pakistan. This chapter reviews the available evidence on arsenic exposure to the population in Pakistan through the Indus River, its severity and association with disease, and prediction of long-term consequences. It also dwells on the inadequate measures so far undertaken for the mitigation and control of the impending disaster. With the growing population in Pakistan, water is becoming scarce; and consequently, an increasing number of people are resorting to underground water. The future health consequences of arsenic exposure through drinking water could be enormous and could have detrimental impacts on the overall development of the population. This chapter begins with the situation analyses of arsenic exposure and toxicity by reviewing the published and unpublished evidence for the quality of water and its health consequences. It takes into account of the available literature, and the example of Bangladesh when discussing the health consequences as the Indus River shares the same Himalayas origin as the rivers in Bangladesh. It then outlines the arsenic mitigation efforts so far undertaken in Pakistan. It further discusses the policies and strategies for arsenic affected areas (mainly along the bank of river) of Pakistan where the mitigation efforts would be most effective in terms of population benefits. In discussing this, it structures a framework for policies and strategies for action for low resource countries for arsenic mitigation.