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Arsenic pollution of the groundwater in Vietnam

Kenya on globe Kenya* Pollution of groundwater from arsenic is a serious threat to the health of many people living in flood plains around the world. One of the countries affected is Vietnam, where the groundwater pumped up from the flood plain around the Red River near Hanoi in many places is polluted with arsenic. Arsenic occurs naturally in sediments in the flood plain, but different processes in the groundwater system can mobilise arsenic so that it ends in the groundwater that is pumped up.

GEUS is managing a new Danish research project funded by the Council for Development Research under Danida, which over the next three years will attempt to uncover the processes leading to this pollution. Due to the good bacteriological quality of groundwater, about 50 per cent of water supplies for Hanoi are based on groundwater, but arsenic pollution poses a threat to this resource. The Vietnamese know very little about why arsenic occurs in the water and therefore they do not have adequate knowledge to assess whether the problem is likely to become worse.

Project work includes detailed hydrological and geochemical surveys to identify and document the processes leading to mobilisation of arsenic. The project aims at both research and capacity development, and Vietnamese researchers are participating in the activities. Seven young Vietnamese will complete MSc programmes with joint Vietnamese and Danish tutors.

The project is being completed in cooperation between the Technical University of Denmark and DHI Water & Environment, as well as Hanoi University of Mining and Geology, Hanoi University of Science and the Northern Hydrological and Engineering Geological Division.

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