A group of researchers from IIT Kharagpur in West Bengal has successfully predicted the presence of arsenic in groundwater and its adverse effect on human health in affected areas using Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms on environmental, geological and human usage parameters.
They also successfully managed to delineate the high and low arsenic zones across the Ganges River delta using AI and quantify the number of people exposed.
Madhumita Chakraborty, the lead author of the paper, said, “Our AI models predict the occurrence of high arsenic in groundwater across more than half of the Ganges River delta, covering more than 25% area in each of the 19 out of 25 administrative zones in West Bengal. A total of 30.3 million people are estimated to be exposed to severely high As-hazard within the Ganges River delta.”
The AI findings will be a boon in the Eastern states where arsenic has been a concern, especially along the banks of the Ganga for almost two decades, putting millions of people at severe health risk.
Professor Abhijit Mukherjee of Department of Geology and Geophysics at IIT Kharagpur said, “Researchers have been studying the distribution patterns of the contaminated groundwater for years to develop a large-scale ecological and environmental framework addressing this challenge in the region. For the first time, we have achieved this breakthrough.”
“All the information forms the baseline knowledge for the recently initiated Jal Jeevan Mission of the Central government. The mission is based on providing safe drinking water to every household by 2024," he added. "The outcome of our research will provide information for the location of safe groundwater, which is the primary source of drinking water for most of India.”
“Eastern India and Bangladesh, which source more than 80% of their drinking water from groundwater sources, are coping with this issue of naturally-sourced arsenic mass poisoning,” he added.