Bangalore: Don’t drink the Ground water!
June 20, 2010 1 Comment
Major study confirms that borewells and other sources of potable water in Bangalore are contaminated with Radon, a radioactive substance that can cause cancer
Most of Bangalore’s ground water resources is radioactive. Yes, radioactive! This is no Cassandra call by some foreign-funded eco-warriors subsidised to spread alarm.
Exhaustive research conducted by the Department of Environmental Studies, Bangalore University, in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, Government College, Mandya, and Central Ground Water Board, Bangalore, have established the presence of high levels of Radon in the the city’s ground water.
Radon is a carcinogenic substance. Experts say drinking water which has traces of this substance can directly lead to stomach and lung cancers. The permissible level of Radon is 11.83 Bq/litre. Levels of Radon in Bangalore’s ground water is estimated between 56 Bq/l and 1000 Bq/l.
“The presence of Radon is due to the presence of Uranium in the geological profile. Random samples collected across the city indicate Radon’s presence in the ground water is beyond permissible limits,” said BU’s Prof R K Somashekar. He and Dr K Shivanna, from the ISOTOPE Application Division (BARC), are the main researchers of ground water contamination in the city.
Radon is produced as a result of the decay of the radioactive substance Radium. Radon enters ground water reserves like borewells. Bangalore’s rich granite source is one possible reason for the production of Radon. Rampant drilling of borewells allows Radon to seep into the water. Those dependent on borewells for their drinking water are at high risk. It’s alarming that 30 to 35 per cent of city residents consume borewell water.
“Ground water contaminated by Radon if ingested can lead to stomach cancers,” Prof Somashekar said. “Reverse osmosis and other filtration methods will not eliminate Radon,” he added.
Dr Bindu, Resource person, Cancer Studies, Kidwai Memorial Institute Of Oncology, said, “Radon is a radio active substance. It cannot be found every where. But then, there are chances of Cancer spreading if people are exposed to it for a long time. There are other factors to be analysed like the percentage of pollutants and the levels of exposure to people in water.”
While Radon is one cause of Cancer, there are other pollutants which can mix with under ground water too leading to Lung and Stomach Cancer. “Usually, chemical pollutants are the culprits. When they penetrate into the water tables, their alkalinity mixes with the water causing ground water pollution. But, this happens in the outskirts as landfills are usually made in the out skirts of the city,” she said.
Chief Radiologist and Oncologist, Bharath Cancer Hospital, Dr Vishweshwara, said, “This cannot happen overnight. If the person is exposed to Radon over a long period of time, a chance of malignancy can be high. The fact that ground water contamination can cause Cancer cannot be ruled out. These cases happen where land fills and dumping of chemical wastes are high.”
Here are some measures to counter this menace:
* Ensure borewell water is not consumed directly.
* Ensure all storage tanks, sumps etc are ventilated.
* Ensure storage tanks etc are kept open for a brief period after water has been pumped in from a borewell.
* Reduce use of granite in construction work.
* Strict enforcement of rain water harvesting.