2007 volume 39(11) pages 2699 – 2714

Cite as:
Atkins P, Hassan M, Dunn C, 2007, "Environmental irony: summoning death in Bangladesh" Environment and Planning A 39(11) 2699 – 2714

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Environmental irony: summoning death in Bangladesh

Peter  Atkins, Manzurul Hassan, Christine Dunn

Received 5 April 2005; in revised form 19 January 2006; published online 21 May 2007

Abstract. The arsenic crisis that affects at least thirty million water consumers in Bangladesh has been called the world’s greatest ever environmental health disaster. Although the problem and the potential solutions have been presented confidently in the media, the argument of this paper is that, ironically, very little of the science or the technology is certain. From the spatial and depth variabilities of contamination, through safety thresholds, to the accuracy of field testing kits, we find indeterminacy. We argue that rather than shying away from such uncertainty, however, mitigation policies must acknowledge and embrace it if any real progress is to be made.

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