Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Strong Poison - in the well

Strong Poison - in the Well

I came across Lord Peter Wimsey and arsenic in Dorothy L. Sayers novel "Strong Poison" which I strongly recommend - the novel, not the arsenic. THIS ARTICLE is much less entertaining but very informative. 

What started as a good thing became a tragedy. Providing water from drilled wells stopped people becoming ill from gastro-intestinal infections. But, over time, signs of arsenicosis appeared. 

Why arsenic got into the water is far from obvious. The article explains the complex chemistry involved - goethite (containing Fe-3 and other stuff including arsenic) in reducing conditions breaks down to Fe-2 and releases its arsenic. Fascinating and deadly chemistry!

Well worth reading and here is a map showing where it is not safe to drink the well water.

Modelled global probability of arsenic concentration in groundwater exceeding 10 μg l-1. Click to display a larger map in a separate browser tab. (credit: Podgorski & Berg; Fig 2A, with enhanced colour)

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