Affordable Access

Publisher Website

The Development and Use of an Innovative Laboratory Method for Measuring Arsenic in Drinking Water from Western Bangladesh

Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1289/ehp.7974
  • Research
  • Ecology
  • Geography


All of Bangladesh’s approximately 10 million drinking-water tube wells must be periodically tested for arsenic. The magnitude of this task and the limited resources of Bangladesh have led to the use of low-cost, semiquantitative field kits that measure As to a relatively high 50 μg/L national drinking water standard. However, there is an urgent need to supplement and ultimately replace these field kits with an inexpensive laboratory method that can measure As to the more protective 10 μg/L World Health Organization (WHO) health-based drinking water guideline. Unfortunately, Bangladesh has limited access to atomic absorption spectrometers or other expensive instruments that can measure As to the WHO guideline of 10 μg/L. In response to this need, an inexpensive and highly sensitive laboratory method for measuring As has been developed. This new method is the only accurate, precise, and safe way to quantify As < 10 μg/L without expensive or highly specialized laboratory equipment. In this method, As is removed from the sample by reduction to arsine gas, collected in an absorber by oxidation to arsenic acid, colorized by a sequential reaction to arsenomolybdate, and quantified by spectrophotometry. We compared this method with the silver diethyldithiocarbamate [AgSCSN(CH2CH3)2] and graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy (GFAAS) methods for measuring As. Our method is more accurate, precise, and environmentally safe than the AgSCSN(CH2CH3)2 method, and it is more accurate and affordable than GFAAS. Finally, this study suggests that Bangladeshis will readily share drinking water with their neighbors to meet the more protective WHO guideline for As of 10 μg/L.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.