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Mass poisonings due to arsenic contaminated water in Bangladesh are the tragic unintended consequence of humanitarian efforts to alleviate disease in Bangladesh by building many deep tube wells to produce water for drinking and irrigation. On Saturday, the results of a ten year, large population study of the link between arsenic contamination and diseases or death in Bangladesh were published in The Lancet. The study's authors come to a disturbing conclusion:
More than twenty percent of deaths in the study population of 12,000 Bangladeshis can be attributed to arsenic poisoning. Half of Bangladeshis, up to 77 million people, have been exposed to the toxic metal, known for causing cancer and long term effects on organs such as the liver, skin, kidney and the cardiovascular system. The WHO is quoted calling the case the "largest mass poisoning of a population in history" by escience news.