Overexploitation of groundwater poisoning water supply in the Mekong Delta Laura Erban, lead author of the study on arsenic in groundwater in Vietnam, samples a well in the Mekong Delta. Groundwater, the major supply of tap water in the region, has been increasingly contaminated with arsenic, a carcinogenic substance. Photo by Laura Erban Nguyen Van Minh’s parents are among at least 50 people in a commune in Tien Giang Province who have died of cancer over the past five years, and concerns over arsenic-laden groundwater are escalating in the Mekong Delta. “My father died of stomach cancer and my mother died of blood cancer. Neither smoked nor drank,” said the farmer who lives in Thoi Son Commune, which is located in the province’s My Tho Town. Do Tien Hoa, a medical worker in the commune’s Thoi Hoa Hamlet and many local residents believe that arsenic, a carcinogenic substance, in their tap water is responsible for the high incidence of cancer in their locality. It appears that the residents’ suspicions are well founded. Unlike previous studies that linked arsenic contamination to groundwater near the surface, a recent study by a group of California-based scientists found increasing contamination of carcinogens in numerous…
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