Guwahati: A serious health risk is creeping up on the residents of the city as the concentration of iron, fluoride, arsenic and other total dissolved solids in groundwater increases. Recent tests of groundwater samples by Anto Daya, an offshoot of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), at a city laboratory have confirmed the presence of such elements.
A total of 4.123 samples of groundwater were collected from nine localities of the city in the first phase.
According to the test findings, of the 120 samples collected for fluoride testing, 21 were found to be fluoride-contaminated. The standard level of fluoride in water is usually 1mg/litre, but the samples from the city showed the level at 1.6 mg/litre. According to the samples tested, groundwater at Panjabari is the most fluoride-contaminated.
Of the 120 samples collected for arsenic testing, five were found to be arsenic-contaminated. Arsenic is a natural element found on the earth’s crust and around 0.01 mg/litre of arsenic is common. In the samples collected from the city, the arsenic contamination level was found to be 0.21 mg/litre. The Bonda and Lal Ganesh areas of the city are the most contaminated.
“We have trained our focus on 20 areas of the city. We have covered nine places so far. Places like Bonda, Lal Ganesh and Panjabari are the most affected. I reside in Lal Ganesh and find it difficult to boil lentils due to the high TDS contamination in the area’s groundwater,” said Uttam Bhattacharjee, joint convener, Anto Daya.
An expert on groundwater contamination said urbanization, not industrialization, is the cause of such high levels of contamination. Earlier, groundwater was available at higher levels and the possibility of contamination were remote.
“It will take three months to cover the entire city. After we complete the tests, we will prepare compile the data and prepare a report. We will send it to the Centre and state government,” added Bhattacharjee.
Extreme or high usage of fluoride-contaminated water can cause fluorosis, an disease which affects the bones. In Assam, four districts (Kamrup, Karbi Anglong, Nagaon and Goalpara) are affected by the disease. Of late, fluorosis cases are being reported from many localities of the city.
Excessive consumption of fluoride-contaminated water can lead to mild dental fluorosis or crippling skeletal fluorosis (according to the World Health Organization).
Prolong exposure to arsenic causes cancer of the bladder, kidneys, lung and skin. It affects the central and peripheral nervous systems. It also causes birth defects and reproductive problems.