DRINKING WATER IN BENGAL BASIN CONTAINS HIGH AMOUNTS OF TOXINS, SAYS STUDY
Context: A study authored by a group of scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur has revealed that a whole region has recorded the presence of pesticides and PAH in its natural sources of water and surface sediments
FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
- Groundwater as well as river water in the western Bengal basin has high concentrations of pesticides and toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
- The researchers tested hundreds of samples, both of groundwater and river water, which is used for drinking water supply from the Farraka Barrage to the Sunderbans, and found these chemicals in significantly higher amounts than permissible limits.
- The Western Bengal basin has evidence of high concentration of arsenic in groundwater,
- The results of the study suggest the existence of wide presence of POPs (persistent organic pollution pollutants), as pesticide residues and PAHs, detected both in groundwater and river water of areas, variable by land use, which are historically known to be at risk from groundwater arsenic pollution
- The study assumes significance because, for the first time in the country, a whole region has recorded the presence of pesticides and PAH in its natural sources of water and surface sediments.
- The study has been carried in one of the most populated regions of South Asia, and the presence of hazardous chemicals in groundwater raises concerns over anthropogenic pollution due to local vehicle combustion, biomass burning and industrial combustion, apart from agricultural activities.
- While arsenic contamination is blamed for most of the deaths due to water contamination, the study provides another aspect for looking into how much pesticides and PAHs in drinking water contribute to the disease burden.
PAHs are a group of aromatic hydrocarbons, the most common being naphthalene, which are not only released by industrial discharge but also from fuel emissions.