Fluoride Action Network

Punjab: Concerns on health safety: EPA to monitor drinking water

Source: Daily Times | March 12th, 2019 | By Samiullah Randhawa
Location: Pakistan

* Punjab EPA will collect samples to test all the 23 parameters mentioned in the WHO guidelines: Director Monitoring Ali Abbas

After a span of over five years, the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started monitoring drinking water in the province, Daily Times learnt. The media and different forums have been highlighting issues over provision of unsafe drinking water but agency remained reluctant to rectify and take preventive measures.

There are two major sources of drinking water, surface and groundwater in province. The provision of safe drinking water is among the responsibilities of Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), Public Health and Engineering Department, and municipal and local authorities. But since 2010, EPA has been given the mandate as a major regulatory agency in this regard.

There have been several reports expressing the concern over the poor quality of drinking water in the country. A United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) survey in 2014 highlighted that drinking water in over 73 per cent of Punjab’s villages had excessive contamination of Totally Dissolved Salts (TDS), arsenics, nitrates and fluoride in it. The survey report observed that this state of water was the major cause of water-borne diseases affecting the health of the inhabitants and economy of the province. While another report of Punjab Health Department in 2014 stated that around three million citizens of the province were suffering from water-borne diseases.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, the quality of water, whether used for drinking, domestic purposes, food production or recreational purposes, has an important impact on health.

Sources informed that from 2010 to 2014, EPA had been testing water samples after collecting them from the parts of Punjab but later it stopped monitoring owing to the reasons best known with the authorities. They continued that there are at least 105 parameters mentioned in Punjab Environmental Quality Standards (PEQS) and among them 32 are related to the drinking water alone.

EPA Director Monitoring, Laboratory & Implementation (ML&I) Ali Abbas told this correspondent that laboratory section has started collecting samples of drinking water from Lahore. He said that initially these samples would be collected from the water being supplied by WASA and then it would be expanded to the province. “EPA will collect samples of over 300 tube-wells of WASA while collecting samples of end users at a distance of 400, 600 and 800 meters away from every tube-well.”

Abbas continued that they are focused to test all the 23 parameters which are mentioned in the WHO’s guidelines including aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, boron, cadmium, copper, cyanide, lead, fluoride, pesticides, mercury, zinc and other toxic elements in the water.

*Original article online https://dailytimes.com.pk/364165/concerns-on-health-safety-epa-to-monitor-drinking-water/