Late last year, the news service Reuters reported a story with the headline "Prenatal Arsenic Exposure Quadruples Infant Death Risk." As the opening paragraph further explains, if pregnant women are exposed to high levels of arsenic, their babies are more likely to die in the first year than "infants whose mothers had the least exposure to the toxic mineral."
To explain: During the 1970s, international aid agencies came up with what seemed like a brilliant plan to stem a plague of water-borne illnesses in the Asian country of Bangladesh. Cholera, typhoid, dysentery were killing citizens by the thousand. As the pathogens responsible lived in surface water, public health officials decided the answer lay in cleaner supplies underground. Aid organizations joined together to install wells in disease-troubled villages, reaching down into the germ-free ground water below. They chose simple, relatively inexpensive tube wells, placed thousands of these over-sized drinking straws into the shallow aquifers.