Groundwater contaminated with arsenic (As), when extensively used for irrigation, causes potentially long term detrimental effects to the landscape. Such contamination can also directly affect human health when irrigated crops are primarily used for human consumption. Therefore, a large number of humans are potentially at risk worldwide due to daily As exposure. Numerous previous studies have been severely limited by small sample sizes which are not reliably extrapolated to large populations or landscapes. Human As exposure and risk assessment are no longer simple assessments limited to a few food samples from a small area. The focus of more recent studies has been to perform risk assessment at the landscape level involving the use of biomarkers to identify and quantify appropriate health problems and large surveys of human dietary patterns, supported by analytical testing of food, to quantify exposure. This approach generates large amounts of data from a wide variety of sources and geographic information system (GIS) techniques have been used widely to integrate the various spatial, demographic, social, field, and laboratory measured datasets. With the current worldwide shift in emphasis from qualitative to quantitative risk assessment, it is likely that future research efforts will be directed towards the integration of GIS, statistics, chemistry, and other dynamic models within a common platform to quantify human health risk at the landscape level. In this paper we review the present and likely future trends of human As exposure and GIS application in risk assessment at the landscape level.
- Human health
- Risk assessment