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Many dists face cancer risk

india Updated: Oct 01, 2006 00:29 IST
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THE STONE crushers operating in Bundelkhand area can result in serious health problems for the people in Bundelkhand as well as adjoining areas extending right up to Lucknow, Kanpur and Allahabad.

The hazardous dust rising from the crushers can also seriously affect the fertility of the soil in these areas putting the livelihood of thousands of farmers at risk.

Realising the dangers and the fact that the silica dust in air blowing from the Bundelkhand region can lead to serious lung problems and possibility of even cancer among the common man, a team of scientists from Allahabad University (AU) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur have decided to carry out a joint study from December 2006 to pinpoint and predict the dangers.

It is to be noted that large-scale stone crushing is being done in the Bundelkhand area in a bid to meet the ever increasing demand of stones for different use in various parts of the country. The stone crushers operating in the area release dust which has a high level of silica content ranging up to the size of one micron. The dust is blown away with wind and gets scattered over the entire Bundelkhand and adjoining areas including Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Jhansi, Agra, Banda, Chitrakoot, Orai and other plain areas.

Elaborating about the problem, Head of AU's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Prof Jayant K Pati said, " If inhaled the dust containing suspended particulate of silica gets settled in the lungs and it can lead to cancer. Since silica is a number one carcinogenic agent , the silica dust develops silicosis which is irreversible and can lead to death of the patient. Many cases of the disease have been reported in the Shankargarh area."

"Besides this, the silica dust also harms agriculture as the dust can lower the fertility of the soil along the plains of Ganga and Yamuna rivers", informed Prof Pati.

Prof Pati said, " The dust is so widespread that we can even spot it as shining flakes over the Bundelkhand area in the latest satellite pictures of the region.

The dust after rising to a specific height gets scattered and spreads over the entire area through the air."

"A joint study will be carried out by IIT Kanpur and AU under the name of Aerosols from December 2006. Eminent geophysics scientists Prof SN Tripathi from IIT Kanpur and Prof Pati will lead the study team and the samples collected from the affected areas will be analysed with the help of data from remote sensing. Through the  study we can find out the worst affected areas and help in finding the solution to the problem", added Prof Pati.