Dr. Alexander F. Van Geen

Lamont Research Professor, Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Columbia Climate School

Affiliated with: M.S. in Sustainability Science

School of Professional Studies

Comer 131
61 Route 9W
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Palisades, NY 10964


My current research focuses on ways to reduce the impact of the environment on human health. For two decades, I coordinated earth-science and mitigation efforts under Columbia’s Superfund Research Program on the origin and health effects of elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater. A theme that runs through this and other ongoing projects, e.g., concerning fluoride in groundwater in India, bauxite dust in Guinea, or soil contaminated with lead from mine-tailings in Peru, is that patterns of contamination are spatially very heterogeneous. This complicates prediction but often also points the way to mitigation when the hazard can be mapped. For this reason, I am a firm believer in the more widespread use of field kits by non-specialists to reduce exposure to environmental toxicants, particularly in developing countries. I collaborate with public health and social scientists to evaluate how such kits can be deployed at scale and have published over 180 peer-reviewed papers on this and other environmental topics. I hold a research professor appointment at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and am a member of the Earth Institute faculty at Columbia University.


Only select projects listed below
Name Start Date End Date
Award of scholarship under "International Research Support Initiative Program" 3/30/18 9/30/18
Award of Scholarship under "International Research Support Initiative Program" - Bench Fees 2/1/17 9/30/17
Characterizing Global Variability in Groundwater Arsenic 2/19/19 2/18/21
CNH: Competing demands and future vulnerability of groundwater: Drinking water quality and food security in Arsenic-Impacted South and Southeast Asia 6/1/14 8/31/19
Collaborative Research: Changes in river aquifer exchange induced by groundwater pumping, and their effect on arsenic contamination in the Red River Delta, Vietnam 7/15/15 6/30/18
Collaborative Research: Enhancing the Sustainability of Groundwater Pumping from Low-Arsenic Aquifers in Southern Asia - A Case-study in Vietnam South of Hanoi 7/1/09 9/30/13
Health effects and geochemistry of arsenic: Core C- Biogeochemistry Core 5/16/17 3/31/19
Health effects and geochemistry of arsenic: Core F - Research Translation Core 5/16/17 3/31/19
Development of Freeze Shoe Sampler to Recover Aquifer Sands with in situ Groundwater from up to 1000 7/1/13 7/31/15
Does Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh Raise Exposure to Bacterial and Viral Pathogens? 1/1/07 12/31/11
Household responses in 26 Bihar villages one year after tubewells were tested for arsenic for a fee 1/17/14 9/30/15
Hydrographic and Sediment-Trap Monitoring of Anoxic Soledad Basin off Baja California for Enhanced Climate Reconstructions: An Interdisciplinary Planning Workshop 7/1/09 7/31/12
International Drilling to Recover Aquifer sands (IDRAs) and Arsenic Contaminated Groundwater in Asia 4/3/14 4/2/17
Piloting a Novel Delivery Mechanism of a Critical Public Health Service in India: Arsenic Testing of Tubewell Water in the Field for a Fee 7/15/12 2/28/13
Health effects and geochemistry of arsenic: Project 4: The Resilience of Low Arsenic Aquifers and their Role in Reducing Human Exposure 5/16/17 3/31/19
Promotion of risk-sharing while testing wells for arsenic to reduce exposure in Myanmar 3/1/14 2/28/15
Understanding the mechanism of arsenic and fluoride and reducing exposure by targeting low arsenic and Fluoride Aquifers in Rural Punjab, Pakistan 9/15/15 9/14/18
Collaborative Research: Informal risk-sharing and private initiative to mitigate local environmental risks 5/15/19 4/30/22
Health Effects and Geochemistry of Arsenic and Manganese 9/13/19 3/31/20
Enhancing the impact of well testing for fluoride with skits and songs in rural India 1/1/20 12/31/21
Health impacts of herbicides and pesticides: bridging the gap from correlation to causation with more low‐cost environmental data 1/1/21 12/31/22


Only select publications listed below
Name Published Date
Arsenic contamination of Bangladesh aquifers exacerbated by clay layers 2020
Quantifying Riverine Recharge Impacts on Redox Conditions and Arsenic Release in Groundwater Aquifers along the Red River, Vietnam 2019
Microbial Community Structure and Arsenic Biogeochemistry in Two Arsenic-Impacted Aquifers in Bangladesh 2017
Megacity pumping and preferential flow threaten groundwater quality 2016
A cross-sectional study of well water arsenic and child IQ in Maine schoolchildren 2014
Chronic Arsenic Exposure and Blood Glutathione and Glutathione Disulfide Concentrations in Bangladeshi Adults 2013
Retardation of arsenic transport through a Pleistocene aquifer 2013
A cluster-based randomized controlled trial promoting community participation in arsenic mitigation efforts in Bangladesh 2012
Impact on arsenic exposure of a growing proportion of untested wells in Bangladesh 2012
Fecal Contamination of Shallow Tubewells in Bangladesh Inversely Related to Arsenic 2011
Impact of tubewell access and tubewell depth on childhood diarrhea in Matlab, Bangladesh 2011
Increase in Diarrheal Disease Associated with Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh 2011
Comparison of dissolved and particulate arsenic distributions in shallow aquifers of Chakdaha, India, and Araihazar, Bangladesh 2008
Decoupling of As and Fe release to Bangladesh groundwater under reducing conditions. Part I: Evidence from sediment profiles 2004
Integrated Reconnaissance of the Physical and Biogeochemical Characteristics of Jamaica Bay 2001