The northeastern Indian state of Assam is facing a grave problem which may threaten the region’s youth and future generations.
Of the 23 districts in Assam, 19 are polluted with arsenic in the water supply, and nine of these districts have very high levels of fluoride.
Beyond this, there are high levels of toxic elements in groundwater, like lead, found in the districts of Darrang and Dhemaji. Cadmium was also found in Dhemaji district.
In Dibrugarh and Nagaon had high levels of non-biodegradable toxic pesticides like DDT and hexachlorocylohexane (HCH).
A lot of these districts are in close proximity to the Meghalaya uranium deposits, hydrocarbon exploration activities and high quantity of iron are part of the problem of bad water in the region.
Cadmium can cause damage to the central nervous system, causes mental disorders, or can lead to cancerous diseases because of mutations in DNA. A large intake of HCH is toxic for humans.
Fluoride was discovered in Assam’s water supply in the 1990s, and arsenic was discovered there in 2003 in two states-Dhubri and Karimganj. These contamination pose a serious health hazard, as the water has been supplied primarily by the Government since the 1960s, and was considered safe to drink.
At least two million of Assam’s population are thought to be at risk because of the contamination.
One in every three people have non-curable fluorosis in some regions, and this problem is even more apparent with children. Some babies are even being born with fluorosis, local experts said.