Based on a recent blanket tubewell testing program conducted in Nepal in 2007, preliminary data are available that allows us to provide a perspective on the As-contamination situation in drinking water of the six southern the Terai districts of Nepal. Arsenic concentrations detected in drinking water of tubewells and dug wells in these districts ranged from 0 to 770 jg L-'. It was found that the majority of the tested wells contained water that had As level below 10 jg L-', which is the WHO guideline value for exposure to As. The mean As levels detected varied from 2 jtg L-' in the Sunsari, Dhanusha, and Rupandehi districts, to 6.27 pg L-' in the Kailali district.
The distribution of As levels detected, based on the NIS guideline, and expressed as a percentage thereof, was highest in the tubewells of the Bara district (3.8%), followed by the Kailali district (3.4%). Wells that were between 0- and 20-m deep contained water that had the highest percentage of As residues that exceeded both the WHO and NIS guideline values.
In shallow tubewells of all six tested districts, the highest As contamination levels were found at depths of <50-m. The proportion of the population that was most often exposed to As levels >50 jig L-' occurred in the Kailali district (4%), followed by the Bara district (3.6%). Using a system developed to classify the relative vulnerability of inhabitants to As through drinking water only the Kailali and Bara districts were classified as "highly vulnerable" to As exposure.
The Kota Tulsipur VDC of the Kailali district was found to be the most prominent As hotspot, wherein the majority of tubewells contained more than 50 jtg L-1 of As.
DOI - Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology (DOI)