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Water crisis may cause ‘lead poisoning’ in city
AJIT PATOWARY
 GUWAHATI, May 15 - If the existing situation continues, the residents of the city, who are and will be depending on the Brahmaputra water for consumption will be vulnerable to the consequences of lead poisoning. Presence of lead in more than permissible limits has been found in the Brahmaputra water samples at three locations recently.

Lead in drinking water proves to be very toxic when it exceeds the maximum permissible limits. Pregnant women and children are more susceptible to the adverse impacts of lead contamination. Experts here are of the opinion that adverse neuro-toxic affects, besides cancer, may occur if lead is constantly consumed even in a very low concentration.

In children, even low levels of exposure to lead have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.

According to information available with this newspaper, more than permissible limit of lead was found in the Brahmaputra water samples collected at Noonmati Chunchali, Kacharighat and Bharalumukh areas of the city recently.

The Chunchali samples contained 0.46 milligram (mg) of lead per litre of water, while the samples collected at Kacharighat and Bharalumukh areas contained 0.48 mg and 0.73 mg of lead per litre of water, respectively. These amounts are against the permissible limit of 0.01 mg of lead per litre of water. This shows that presence of lead in the above samples exceeded the permissible limit in a phenomenal manner.

However, the redeeming feature is that unlike in 2017, arsenic contamination of the Brahmaputra water in the city has not been detected this time.

It needs mention here that in 2017, Dr Bibhash Sarma of the Assam Engineering College (AEC) and his M Tech student Priyanka Kotoky found excess amount of lead and arsenic in the Brahmaputra water samples collected from different areas between Noonmati and Pandu and six water treatment plants of the city.

These findings of the AEC scholars were treated very seriously by the scientists and public health engineers of the city and they held a consultative meeting under the aegis of the Senior Engineers’ Forum of NE region on July 26, 2017, to discuss the findings and to determine the future course of action on the issue.

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