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HindustanTimes Fri,21 Nov 2014

Assam water contaminated with Arsenic, fluoride

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Guwahati, March 14, 2013
First Published: 00:29 IST(14/3/2013) | Last Updated: 00:31 IST(14/3/2013)

Twenty out of 27 districts in groundwater-dependent Assam are arsenic and fluoride contaminated. Two separate reports – one tabled in the assembly and the other following a survey – have established this.

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Public health engineering minister Gautam Roy on Tuesday said arsenic content in groundwater ranged between 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 996 ppb in 19 districts. This translates into 0.05-0.996 milligram of arsenic per litre of water.

The permissible limit for arsenic established by World Health Organisation is 0.01 mg/l.

Prolonged arsenic contamination is known to cause cancer and skin diseases besides affecting reproductive health. Apart from Assam, arsenic-laced water is a serious problem in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Manipur.

A survey report by the Northeast Institute of Science and Technology also established high fluoride content in groundwater in six districts, five of which are also arsenic-affected. These districts include Kamrup Metro, where Guwahati is situated.

Groundwater in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong was found to have a fluoride content of 15-20 mg/l while in certain areas of Guwahati and outskirts it went up to 6.88 mg/l.

The WHO permissible limit is 1.5 mg/l.

Ingestion of 10-20 mg of fluoride per day for more than 10 years leads to crippling skeletal fluorosis, the report said. Inhabitants of at least half a dozen villages in Karbi Anglong district suffer from fluorosis in varying degrees.


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