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Delhi groundwater is full of arsenic and fluoride: report

Jun 18, 2018

While arsenic is carcinogenic, high nitrate levels are known to cause methemoglobinemia, or ‘blue baby’ disease.

New Delhi: Water quality in Delhi is facing an alarming situation. According to a recent Lok Sabha secretariat report, East and Northeast districts of Delhi are challenged with arsenic contamination of groundwater, while other districts have recorded nitrate and fluoride pollution. These three pollutants have major health implications for the water users.

While arsenic is carcinogenic, high nitrate levels are known to cause methemoglobinemia, or ‘blue baby’ disease. The report also indicates how much the city is overdrawing its groundwater. The over exploitation accounts for 27%, basis the latest study conducted on analysis of groundwater use between 2011 and 2013, for every 100 litres that get replenished, inhabants in the capital draw out 127 litres.

The Lok Sabha secretariat report also red-flagged the areas in the country where there is over exploitation of groundwater. These areas comprise of northwestern part of the country including Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh, the western part of the country such as Rajasthan and Gujarat and areas in peninsular India such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.

With the current situation triggering the alarm button, people need to understand that microbial and organic contaminants cannot always be perceived by human senses. Moreover, traditional methods like boiling water or distilled water are just not enough to get rid of contaminants like arsenic, nitrate and fluoride.

One needs to choose the right water purifier, by asking a water expert to suggest the right water-purification technology, depending on the kind of water that you get at your place. Unless the purifier is suited for the water, it will not be able to purify the contamination. There are technologies like RO + UV + UF which not only helps in purifying water but also in retaining all the minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc etc.

Nisha Khanna, a housewife from Paschim Vihar, said that water both in terms of quality and quantity had become a serious concern. “The poor quality of water is especially taking a toll on our health and lowering the immunity levels which is affecting our day to day living. Common ailments such as common cold, viral infections, influenza, pneumonia, malaria, dengue, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, typhoid and hepatitis or jaundice have become even more rampant,” she said.

Dr Mahesh Gupta, Chairman, Kent RO Systems, said, “Today water purifiers have become a necessity of your kitchen, you cannot just rely upon even the government supplied water. If you wish to keep your health intact you have no other choice then to switch to a water purifier which is capable of removing dissolved arsenic and fluoride in the water."

But the use of ROs has led to a different kind of conundrum. While the drinking water is purified by conventional RO water purifier, less than 20% water is recovered as pure water. Rejected water is essential to remove the soluble impurities from contaminated inlet water. Around 80% of inlet water flows out as rejected water and is wasted in these conventional RO Water Purifiers. On the whole, conventional RO water purifiers require 40 litres of raw water to produce 10 litres of pure and drinkable water, so one can very well imagine how much water is being flushed away daily.

People need to take informed care of themselves and their family members and adhere to some basic precautions especially with the water that they are consuming to keep their family safe from germs.

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