Industrial effluent pollution in water bodies is hazardous to Health

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As per the visit conducted recently, in Dharangwala village in Fazilka district in Punjab where labourers and children who are directly exposed to polluted canal water are facing Cancer cases, mystery illnesses and dental problems.
  • The reason behind this situation seems to be Industry effluents and municipal water polluting water sources and air pollution in the region.
  • A verbal survey following an application in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) revealed that around 40 children in the village of 450 households have intellectual disabilities.
What is water contamination?
  • Pollution is mainly caused due to human activities, whereas contamination can be human induced or occur naturally in the environment.
  • The extent of damage is usually higher in pollution compared to contamination because pollutants can disturb the balance of the ecosystem on a broader scale compared to contaminants.
  • Pollution usually impacts the larger environment, while contamination may occur on a limited scale or within a particular substance or body and can be easily mitigated.
  • There are two categories of water pollution:
    • Point source pollution – occurs when harmful substances enter directly into the water from a source.
    • Non-point source pollution– occurs when pollutants enter indirectly through transport or environment.
Major Effluents contaminating water bodies in India: Water sources can get polluted because of a range of harmful contaminants. The common contaminants occurring in drinking water can be classified into:
  • Inorganic contaminants: includes metals such as fluoride, arsenic, lead, copper, chromium, mercury, antimony, cyanide that can get into drinking water (surface as well as groundwater) from natural sources, industrial processes, as well as from plumbing systems.
  • Organic contaminants: includes pesticides, untreated domestic and industrial wastes that can get into rivers, lakes, ponds and even groundwater.
    • Contamination through organic materials can cause serious health problems like cancers, hormonal disruptions, and nervous system disorders.
  • Biological contaminants: includes the presence of living organisms, such as algae, bacteria, protozoa or viruses in the water. Each of these can lead to a range of health problems among humans.
  • Radiological contaminants: includes radioactive materials that are found naturally in the soil or rocks or generated through industrial wastes that can get mixed with drinking water (surface water as well as groundwater) at the source.
What are the health impacts of contaminated drinking water?
  • Inorganic pollutants in water can be extremely harmful and lead to a range of chronic and fatal health problems ranging from poisoning to organ damage and cancers.
  • For example, high levels of arsenic, lead, asbestos, cyanide, copper etc. in water can be extremely harmful to health and can lead to problems like dental and skeletal fluorosis in case of excessive levels of fluoride, arsenicosis due to high levels of arsenic and endocrine disruptions and neurological damage due to presence of excessive amounts of mercury.
  • Organic and radiological contaminants can also lead to a range of dangerous health impacts on the body such as cancers, liver and kidney damage, reproductive and endocrine disorders, birth defects etc.
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