SUBJECT : Water

DANGEROUS Water supply in parts of Amritsar, Muktsar could be causing cancer and kidney failure, claim experts

THE GOVT SHOULD GET A SURVEY DONE TO IDENTIFY HIGH-RISK AREAS WHERE THE CONTAMINATION IS AT AN ALARMING LEVEL. ONCE THIS IS DONE, PRECAUTIONARY STEPS LIKE INSTALLATION OF ROs CAN BE DONE Dr JASPAL SINGH, GNDU associate professor

AMRITSAR: Around 15% of potable water samples tested in Amritsar and Muktsar in 2014 were found to have been contaminated with more than the recommended safe concentration of uranium, a carcinogenic element, the consumption of which is known to lead to cancer, liver diseases and kidney malfunction in humans, a Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) study has documented.

GNDU associate professor Dr Jaspal Singh has claimed that during the study in 2014, samples were taken around the year. Of 142 samples tested, 19 were found to have uranium content more than the recommended 60 microgram per litre by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India) (AERB). Another 58 samples contained were found to have uranium concentration at above 30 microgram per litre, the safe standard recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the US.

Industrial ef fluents are thought to be the main cause of uranium contamination.

The samples, taken from the urban and rural areas of Amritsar and Muktsar, were tested at labs in the varsity with one of the samples even being found to have an alarmingly high uranium concentration at 550 microgram per litre.

The ill effects of such dangerous contamination are already showing. Residents of localities around the Tung Dhab drain in Amritsar has led to a spurt in cases of diarrhoea, jaundice, eye ailments and others being reported from the area. Experts caution that irreversible genetic changes and mutations could also result if the consumption of uranium contaminated water continues.

“One must know that the WHO had relaxed permissible concentration from 15 micrograms to 30micrograms per litre, yet 72 samples have high uranium content, if we apply the AERB guidelines and 89 samples according to WHO and EPA (USA),” Dr Jaspal added.

He added that in the course of the study it was found that deep tube wells in the city and the villages have low uranium contents as compared to the upper level groundwater tubewells.

The water sources in the region are already known to be contaminated with heavy metals and this study must ring alarm bells in health department officials and the administration.

Amritsar civil hospital SMO Dr HS Ghai said, “Carcinogenic substances like uranium, when dissolved in water, can lead to instances of cancer, besides liver and kidney problems. The installation of reverse osmosis systems can help get rid of the problem. However, the Amritsar MC should own up the responsibility of providing ROs in areas where they are not available.”



Source: 11 January, 2015, Hindustan Times