A Low-cost Method to Identify Tubewells for Longitudinal Research on Arsenic in Groundwater

Jonathan D. Sugimoto, Salahuddin Ahmad, Mahbubur Rashid, Abu Ahmed Shamim, Alan B. Labrique


Exposure to high concentrations of arsenic in tubewell groundwater from the shallow aquifers of Bangladesh could result in up to 300,000 arsenic-related cancer cases over the next four decades. Understanding the magnitude and temporal dynamics of this exposure, via longitudinal studies, is imperative for planning effective mitigation and management strategies. Appropriate methods are needed to identify tubewells for longitudinal sampling. A plastic band marked with a unique identification number was developed, and various methods for attaching the band to the tubewell were tested, resulting in the choice of a galvanized-iron split-rivet. Two follow-up surveys at two and 14 months post-banding assessed the durability and longevity under field conditions in the JiVitA Project area in rural, northwestern Bangladesh. After two months, ~96.0% of the original bands on 1,063 tubewells were functional, although the rivets were partially corroded. After 14 months, ~65% of a subsample of the bands were functional. With further improvements to the rivets, these bands offer an inexpensive, durable, enumeration technology for longitudinal studies on groundwater arsenic.

Key words: Arsenic; Groundwater; Longitudinal studies; Plastic banding technology; Tubewell labelling methods; Tubewells; Bangladesh

Full Text: PDF