students that people are exposed to hazards that they
may not be aware of (unlike
natural disasters studied
in the previous lesson); for example, we all assume
that the water we use for drinking and cooking is uncontaminated.
There are people in many regions of the world, including
parts of the United States, who are exposed to water
that is not pure or uncontaminated. One of those contaminants
is Arsenic. Arsenic in drinking water has become a
out the Article, “Arsenic in Drinking
the World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs210/en/
Ask students to read the sections ‘Source’ and ‘Effects’
Hold a class discussion and list the students’ responses
on the board.
1. How does arsenic contaminate drinking
2. What are the health effects of arsenic
At the end of the discussion tell students
that they will work in the computer
lab to investigate
specific cases where arsenic contamination is a problem.
Hand out the scenario and instructions to the students
Case Study- Student Guidelines
The 3rd World Water Forum met recently
in Kyoto, Japan to discuss the
problem of arsenic
drinking water. Participants agree
that it has become a serious
challenge for people living in
various parts of Asia as well as Latin America. According
to experts, “the
estimated number of people drinking
is of astonishing proportions;
estimates put the total number
at greater than 50 million in the
Asian region alone”. (The
3rd World Water Forum) Naturally-occurring
and human-induced arsenic
pollution in drinking water has
been discovered in many parts of
the world making this
a global issue.
a member of the World Health Organization,
your task is to ensure
to everyone. Your years of experience
have taught you that access to
safe water is
a complicated issue
affects people’s health,
food supplies, living conditions,
businesses and incomes.
In order to complete
your task, you will need to investigate
the regions of the world that
are known to have arsenic in
supplies. In your investigation
you will determine how the arsenic
got into the
water and the impact that it
has had on the health of the
residents in the area. As you
visit the affected
regions, gather information that
can be used to persuade the United
Nations to consider holding a
Global UN Conference
on the Arsenic Crisis.
your investigation by looking
at the following sites:
the following questions as you research the sites:
1. List the specific source of arsenic contamination in each
of the affected areas.
Was the source of contamination human-induced or natural?
b) If the source was human-induced, who should be held
What impact does this issue have on the residents in
the area? Are there other sources of water?
What dietary concerns might the residents have to deal
with if their supply of clean water is limited?
List examples of specific health issues related to arsenic
you have completed your research you will use the
information you gathered for questions 1 – 5
to write a formal letter to the United Nations
Secretary General asking for
a special conference on the global arsenic
crisis. Begin your letter by stating the problem and
to the United Nations. Include supporting details
research in the main body of the letter.
the format for a business letter at: http://grossmont.gcccd.cc.ca.us/sandia.tuttle/businessletter.html
for student volunteers to read their letters to
ask the students:
What were the common arguments made in favor
of holding a conference on arsenic contamination?
What were the common recommendations?
Do you think that this a critical issue that the United
address? Why or why not?
Formal letters to the Secretary General of the United Nations.
responses to the first set of questions allow for assessment
of whether they can identify sources of arsenic contamination
of water, and the health impacts of drinking arsenic
letter allows for assessment of students’ ability
to articulate in a written form a larger concept about
the global nature of this public health issue. Letters
will be evaluated on content and format.