Extensive arsenic contamination in high-pH unconfined aquifers in the Indus Valley

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Science Advances  23 Aug 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 8, e1700935
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700935

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  • RE: Comment on the “Extensive arsenic contamination in high-pH unconfined aquifers in the Indus Valley”
    • Nabeel Khan Niazi, Assistant Professor/Research Scientist, University of Agriculture Faisalabad and University of Bremen

    Dear Editor,

    This is an interesting study which indicates about arsenic contamination issue in groundwater wells in different areas of Pakistan. Arsenic contamination of groundwater in Pakistan is an emerging issue and needs an attention to develop suitable management and remediation measures in arsenic-affected areas.

    However, this report, about prediction of arsenic-induced population risk (50 to 60 million people), appears to be too much ‘exaggerated and overestimated’.
    There are some critically-important points that authors should have considered before claiming that ’50 million to 60 million are at high risk of arsenic poisoning in the Indus Valley of Pakistan’.

    1. Firstly, it is not mentioned in paper which areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces in Pakistan were exactly targeted for groundwater sampling. This is crucial to know and indicate arsenic contamination extent and trend in groundwater from geologically different settings, and compare with previous studies in those areas. For example, arsenic in majority of groundwater wells from areas around central Punjab (e.g., Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Faisalabad (our own unpublished data) is well below the WHO safe limit (10 μg/L) of arsenic in drinking water – the problem mainly exists in southern Punjab (e.g., Vehari, Multan, Bahawalpur) (1), and near Lahore (2) with number of safe wells exist in the same area (3).
    2. A total of 1184 groundwater samples were taken in this study, of which 39...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.