Pharma, human waste in Yamuna could spell disaster for humans, trigger drug-resistant diseases
Pharmaceutical compounds reaching the Yamuna in the form of untreated sewage water and human waste could turn some of the micro-organisms drug resistant and can trigger a range of drug resistant diseases, experts warn.
“In our experiments conducted in Chennai, we have found at least 30 kinds of pharmaceutical compounds that could have reached the river water through human waste and sewage water. If similar tests are carried out in the Yamuna or other rivers across India, the results would be the same,” Ligy Philip, professor of environmental and water resources engineering division of IIT Madras, said on Friday.
She was speaking at the second state-level workshop on the implementation of the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016, organised by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
“Microorganisms are interacting with compounds such as Ciprofloxacin, Atenolol, Gemfibrozil which were reaching the rivers in very low doses through human waste and untreated waste water. In the long term, they could become drug resistant and trigger a range of diseases,” she added.
Experts pointed out that even the sewage treatment plants are not equipped to treat or check these pharmaceutical compounds.
Delhi contributes nearly 70% of the Yamuna’s pollution. A recent report published by the Central Pollution Control Board has found that total coliform (coming from human waste) at Okhla was in the range 230000 – 160000000 MPN / 100 litres (prescribed limit 500 MPN / 100 litres).
“Urine of patients undergoing treatment with radioactive substances such as Iodine 131 is also reactive since most of the radioiodine leaves our body through urine. Good toilet hygiene is the only way to reduce chances of contamination,” said Aruna Kaushik, senior scientist with the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences.
The state government is now planning to make Delhi a biomedical waste fee city and has urged the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to prepare an action plan.
“The new Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016 have come up and we want to make Delhi free from such wastes. I would urge the DPCC to prepare an actin plan. The citizens should be aware about this waste and also know whom to contact if they see any violations in diagnostic centres, hospitals and clinics,” said Manish Sisodia deputy chief minister.
According to estimates available with the state health department Delhi produces more than 13,600 kilos of biomedical wastes every day.
“There are however only two common biomedical waste facility in Delhi. This is not enough. We need to come up with more such facilities, at least 4 – 6, to tackle the huge quantity of waste,” said Imran Hussain, state environment minister.