February 18, 2008
In addition to a history degree, I was awarded a minor in geology when I graduated. Originally, I'd intended on double majoring in History and Geology at the same time, but never got around to completing that, mainly because it would have taken me a further 2-3 years of study, something I didn't want to do. It's still something I really like keeping up on, with the occasional paper or presentation - my university will hold faculty talks every now and then, and I just got back from one today, this one on the topic of concentrated levels of arsenic (among other toxins) in large sections of Bangladesh. While the estimated lifespan of the population has jumped about ten years with the introduction of drilled water wells, providing the population with a non-surface water supply (generally infected, and could prove deadly with regular consumption), the drilled wells have proven to introduce these chemicals into the general population, killing almost 150,000 annually. The purpose of the study was to investigate means to test the water annually, and to direct people to wells that were deemed safe to drink from. It was an interesting study, with some promising results. They were able to direct people to better wells, with much success, although there are some cultural issues that cropped up. The main problem is that there is still a lot of toxins there, a problem that is expensive for a poor country. (It has almost half of the US population in numbers, in the space of Wisconsin - around 500 people per square kilometer)
I've done this sort of work before - testing and analyzing groundwater flow patterns, mainly with small commercial spills and things like that, but to see something on this scale would have been facinating to work on.
Don't Drink The Water - Dave Matthew's Band