International Research Conducted by EGS Faculty
This semester Professor Chowdhury is in Bangladesh working on coastal aquifers as part of a hydrogeological research program that he has been conducting since 2006.
Very high concentrations of nitrite are found in many wells in the area where samples have been drawn from aquifer systems up to 244 m deep. Nitrite concentrations in 35 wells randomly sampled in this study range from 16.98 to 43.11 mg/L, averaging 27.55 mg/L. This is much higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 1 mg/L set by the U.S. EPA for human consumption. Simultaneously, dissolved oxygen (DO) is found to be very low (0.1 to 2 mg/L). There are numerous reports and anecdotal evidences of “Blue Baby Syndrome” (methemoglobinemia) in the region, which is generally due to gradual suffocation caused by poor transport of oxygen from the lungs to the body parts. This situation is known to occur as a result of methemoglobin compounds deposited in the blood stream in association with excess nitrite consumption.
Prof. Chowdhury is collecting health related information by interviewing midwives and conducting focused group discussions involving women in that region.