U.S. Water News Online
LUCKNOW, India -- Millions of people in India's most
populous state are drinking water contaminated with traces of
cadmium, fluoride, arsenic, nitrates and lead, says a recently
released government report.
Groundwater sources in 36 districts in northern Uttar Pradesh
state were not fit for drinking, said the study by the state's Water
Nearly 70 percent of the state's 166 million people lack access to
safe drinking water.
``Water was tested from 20,000 hand pumps across the state.
Samples of 11,021 hand pumps were found to contain water contaminated
with carcinogenic elements,'' said Rashid Khan, general manager of
the Water Works Department.
Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a serious problem in India
Low concentrations of arsenic can slowly build up in the body,
eventually causing cancers, skin diseases and other illnesses.
Prolonged exposure to arsenic can cause kidney, liver, intestinal,
neurological, cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.
Groundwater is the main source of drinking water for India's poor.
Nearly 70 percent of India's more than 1.2 billion people live in
An expert called the Uttar Pradesh report frightening.
``Probably this is the reason why the number of cancer patients in
Uttar Pradesh state has almost doubled in the past 10 years,'' said
Neeraj Bora, the state president of the Indian Medical Association.
About 2,300 cancer patients visit King George's Medical College
hospital in Lucknow, the state capital, every month. Eight years ago
that figure was less than 1,000.
``We are now getting patients from smaller towns,'' said Mahesh
Sarin, a doctor at the hospital that houses the main cancer treatment
facility in the state.
Scientists say improper disposal of industrial and municipal waste
has led to contamination of groundwater source.
``The contamination is high in industrial towns,'' said Rahul
Diwakar Singh at Lucknow-based Industrial Toxicology Research Center.
Pesticides and insecticides seep into the ground with rain water
and contaminate the sources.
Once the groundwater gets contaminated, it is almost impossible to
undo the damage. The government says it's working on the problem and
will soon initiate corrective measures.
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