High concentration of heavy metals affecting health of residents: Experts
Tribune News Service - March 4, 2022
By Sukhmeet Bhasin
Eighty per cent of groundwater in the Malwa region is unfit for drinking and irrigation. Although, there is no exact figure in any recent study, but all experts are unanimous that the chemical contamination of the groundwater is posing a great health risk to the people living there and it is also putting children at risk of a blood disorder.
- 7 dists under watch
We are monitoring the water quality in seven districts. Some areas have high content of uranium, some have fluoride. Prof Dr VK Garg, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda
Teeth, bone problems
A study of 2018, which was commissioned by the Centre’s Department of Science and Technology, had found concentration of calcium, magnesium, sodium, nitrate and fluoride higher than the permissible limits, rendering 80.3 per cent groundwater of Malwa unsuitable for drinking.
Prof Dr VK Garg, Dean, School of Environment And Earth Sciences, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, said, “We are monitoring the water quality in seven districts of the region and we have found that some areas have more content of uranium, and some have high content of fluoride or other heavy metals in the groundwater.”
He said it had been proven that these metals in the groundwater were affecting the health of people. The presence of 1 mg fluoride in 1 litre of water can make the teeth colour yellow and 4 mg fluoride in 1 litre water can affect bones, he said.
Prof Dr Bhupinder Singh Virk of Punjabi University in his study on “The Problem of Drinking Water in the Malwa region of Punjab” has stated that Punjab, a pioneer of green revolution today, is facing an acute problem of drinking water due to water pollution.
He said, “During the study, it has come to light that there are different factors responsible for the problem. In Bathinda, we found fly ash of thermal plants, pesticides, weedicides, chemical fertilisers used by farmers, untreated water discharged by industries in seasonal rivulets of this area”.
He said, “In Mansa, we found a canal which carried the industrial waste water from the adjoining state of Haryana and polluted water of adjoining villages and towns. Besides, the village common ponds are used as sewage tanks in most villages of the area. Moreover, they had reported that the small industries in every district are disposing untreated/polluted industrial waste into borewells or nearby drains.”
According to a study by a team of experts of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, it is a matter of concern that the polluted groundwater used for drinking, domestic and irrigation purposes is making children vulnerable to both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks, more than adults in Bathinda and Faridkot.
Health activist Dr Vitull K Gupta said several studies over the years have documented that groundwater in the Malwa region is unfit for drinking and irrigation because of elevated levels of alkalinity, hardness, fluoride, uranium, nitrate, magnesium, phosphates and several contents of pesticides and fertilisers.
More importantly, the carcinogenic risk of arsenic and chromium was the highest in Bathinda district.
Over 1,800 RO plants were installed in the state during 2009 and thereafter by the then SAD-BJP government, including 1,075 in Malwa, but now in many villages, these ROs are lying defunct for the past few years.
Calcium, sodium above normal level
A study of 2018 had found that the concentration of calcium, magnesium, sodium, nitrate and fluoride higher than the permissible limits, rendering 80.3% area of Malwa unsuitable for drinking.
As per a study by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, the polluted groundwater is making children vulnerable to both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks, more than adults, in Bathinda and Faridkot.
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