LONDON: British scientists claim to have found a solution to the world's worst case of poisoning through exposure to arsenic in rice and water in eastern India. According to an estimate, over 70 million people in Eastern India and Bangladesh experience involuntary arsenic exposure from consuming water and rice. This includes farmers who have to use contaminated groundwater from minor irrigation schemes. It is estimated that for every random sample of 100 people in the Bengal Delta, at least one person will be near death as a result of arsenic poisoning, while five in 100 will be experiencing other symptoms. Now scientists at the Queens University, Belfast have created a new low-cost technology to provide arsenic-free water to millions of people in South Asia who are exposed to high levels of poison in groundwater. Leading an international team, Queen's researchers have also developed a trial plant in Kasimpore, near Kolkata, which offers chemical-free groundwater treatment technology to rural communities for all their drinking and farming needs. The technology is based on recharging a part of the groundwater, after aeration, into a subterranean aquifer (permeable rock) able to hold water. Increased levels of oxygen in the groundwater slow down the arsenic release from the soil. Queen's project co-ordinator Bhaskar Sen Gupta said: "While there are some techniques available for treating relatively small quantities of water, there has until now been no viable technology available for decontaminating groundwater on a large scale that can ensure safe irrigation and potable water. This project developed by Queen's is the only method which is eco-friendly, easy to use and deliverable to the rural community user at an affordable cost." Arsenic is a semi-metallic naturally-occurring chemical. It is difficult to detect as it is generally odourless and flavourless. Its consumption leads to higher rates of some types of cancers, including tumours of the lung, bladder and skin, and other lung conditions. Some of these effects show up decades after the first exposure.